Published on: June 10, 2015by Michael Sansolo
CHICAGO - Given the diverse nature of both the supermarket industry and the challenges it faces, it’s nearly impossible to find any single aspect of the FMI Connect show currently taking place here that encapsulates all that change.
But not completely impossible.
A compelling study of realities in the produce department in many ways puts into focus the challenge of changing consumers, their changing desires, competition, regulation and more. Thankfully, MNB friend and industry consultant Anne-Marie Roerink was able to capture all of that and more in her multiple presentations of “The Power of Produce,” a new study she did for the Food Marketing Institute.
Consider some of the key points in Roerink’s presentation and how they reflect on the entire range of industry issues.
• Purchasing behaviors are all over the place. Produce is largely a planned purchase, yet more than half of shoppers frequently make impulse buys. There are two key elements to these findings: first, shoppers can be won over the produce items provided the displays are well maintained and inviting. Product appearance is more important in produce that nearly any other category and can easily outweigh price as a purchasing decision.
Second, whether shoppers make lists and how they do it is changing greatly by generations. Millennials, the largest and increasingly important shopper group, is far more likely to use electronic means to view ads and are much less likely to make lists. Plus, more than other shoppers, they crave useful information and help, so the opportunity for building sales is there.
But remember, you can’t abandon paper advertising completely as it remains important to other generations. So as with so many issues, retailers must walk a fine line these days between on technology and traditional methods.
• Megatrends and food issues weigh heavily in produce. Shoppers surveyed by Roerink put increasing importance on locally sourced products even if their definition of local is all over the place. As Roerink explained, this gives retailers an opportunity to define the meaning and make it important.• In addition, don’t overlook the changes in purchasing behavior. Organic is an incredibly important attribute in many produce categories and must get significant attention. What’s more when it comes to electronic shopping, produce has power. Market basket statistics from MyWebGrocer show that produce is among the most frequently purchased items by on-line grocery consumers. Sales building ideas are widespread. In produce this includes the use of value-added products or appealing to shopper needs, such as helping shoppers consider produce for snacking or new recipes.
• While it’s hardly news that produce is a major factor in how people shop, this factor looms larger than ever in today’s competitive marketplace. Excellent produce merchandising might be critical toward growing sales and profits, especially as more on-line competitors rise up in the marketplace.
In other words, there’s a lot to learn from produce in terms of all the challenges facing the industry.
Michael Sansolo can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org . His book, “THE BIG PICTURE: Essential Business Lessons From The Movies,” co-authored with Kevin Coupe, is available on Amazon by clicking here. And, his book "Business Rules!" is available from Amazon by clicking here.
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