Published on: January 17, 2018by Kate McMahon
Sometimes, a simple statement speaks volumes.
I would put Wegmans’ Facebook post featuring its Roasted Butternut Squash with Baby Spinach and Cranberries in that category.
I came across the recipe on New Year’s Day while reviewing the reams of Top Ten lists featuring food trends and more. The colorful photo looked appealing, and it said Wegmans aficionados have rated the butternut squash side dish their Number One Customer Favorite recipe for the 12th consecutive year.
Wegmans based the list on the number of views and five-star ratings each recipe gleaned on its website or mobile app during 2017. It was the closing line of the post that shed light on one of the reasons the regional supermarket chain consistently eclipses its rivals across the country.
“[The dish] is truly an all-time favorite and a must try if you haven’t already! If you don’t have time to make it, it is available in our Market Café and Frozen Foods.”
Bingo. That’s one of the differentials that makes Wegmans … Wegmans. The family-owned Rochester, NY-based retailer gets the importance of giving shoppers time-saving options. As Wegmans’ Jo Natale says: “We are all about helping our customers make great meals that are easy, healthy and affordable, whether they want to cook from scratch or have us do some or all of the work.”
It’s about choice, quality and convenience. if you try a dish ready-made and enjoy it, you may very well opt to make it when time allows. And vice-versa. You can have it both ways.
Of the top 10 dishes, all but four included a pre-prepared option in addition to the recipe. The No. 9 favorite Meat Lasagna, for example, was also available ready-to-go in frozen foods. The No. 2 Chicken Cacciatore was a “ready-to-cook” EZ Meal in the meat department. If your family had a hankering for the No. 6 Homestyle Meatloaf, it is available as both ready-to-cook and ready-to-eat.
Additionally, the majority of the ingredients in the recipes were from Wegmans’ “Food You Feel Good About” line. For the butternut squash dish, that included the main ingredient cut into 1-inch cubes (which is a tedious chore to do on your own), the triple-washed baby spinach and the dried sweetened cranberries – in short, everything but Wegmans Organic Basting Oil, red onion and salt and pepper. Other time-saving ingredients include pre-chopped garlic, onions, a variety of cleaned and cut fresh vegetables (a huge time-saver), and even cauliflower puree to sauce the No. 4 favorite Cauli-Fredo Fettuccini with Chicken and Broccoli.
Wegmans launched “Food You Feel Good About” way back in 1991, promising no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives, and today almost 90% of its brand items carry that label.
Obviously, the prepared foods are more expensive than simply making the recipe, but clearly the quality and selection keeps consumers coming back. I compared the prices of the family pack meals, and the cost is still well below most of the meal kits available today or traditional takeout. There’s a plentiful selection of main courses, sides, soups, salad and ethnic-inspired fare, and seasonal specials.
Wegmans wins accolades as one of America’s best retailers and employers for many reasons. While much of what makes Wegmans’ big, bustling stores unique would be impossible to replicate, this “you can have it both ways” approach is one strategy competitors would be wise to emulate.
But if nobody else does … well, there is a Wegmans scheduled to open just 19.8 miles from me (not that I’m counting), though construction is not supposed to begin until late this year.
I already feel good about it.
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