That is what I felt when I was stopped dead in my tracks by the first totally dairy-free refrigerator case I’ve ever seen, at the KeHE Summer Selling Show this past February in New Orleans. I'm allergic to dairy and happy to be dairy-free but unfortunately living this way makes my trips to the grocery store more like a foraging event for my plant powered dairy-like products. I normally have to hunt down plant-based milks in the cereal aisle, buttery spreads in the dairy case and vegan cheese in the produce cooler. It’s time consuming! I never stopped to think that it didn’t make me feel valued as a customer until I felt all warm and fuzzy inside when I stumbled upon this case. Someone somewhere cares about me and my dairy-freeness. Aww, yay! I <3 you right back!
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I’m not alone. Check out how this concept could impact your business: 33% of people are lactose intolerant in the USA — that’s over 100 million potential customers — and 75% of adults have a decrease in lactose activity*, which means dairy-free items will make them feel better. Happy customers who feel good and valued mean returning customers and that is a big opportunity for grocers.
Love is in our logo
So naturally we at SpartanNash had to toss our heart into the ring (sorry, couldn’t help it). The first "Dairy-Free" case was unveiled this summer at our flagship D&W Fresh Market at Knapp’s Crossing in Grand Rapids, Mich., with more to follow in our other fresh stores soon.
Located next to the dairy case, it’s a four-foot refrigerated case of heaven for those who choose to or have to live without dairy products. We have curated a wide selection of dairy-free buttery spreads, yogurts, cheeses, milks, creamers, sour creams, cream cheeses and even artisanal cheeses and spreads that are perfect for cocktail parties. They’re all in one place for our customers’ convenience.
A series of Healthy Happy Hours where select dairy-free products from the case will be sampled is happening in the near future. And, we just completed a cool, fun and interactive social media contest that not only helped us promote this new concept economically but gave us great social media content at the same time. More on that next week, so stay tuned.
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How do you cater to your dairy-free or lactose intolerant customers? Obviously we’d love to know.
*Source: National Digestive Diseases Information, USA Today. 7-25-12
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