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Fresh Departments Key to Attracting, Retaining Wellness Shoppers

The changing dynamics of today’s food scene are certainly influencing the role that supermarkets play in providing meal options for today’s consumers. Eating is no longer just a necessary routine in one’s daily life; rather, it’s a thought-out and calculated component of one’s lifestyle, especially among health-and-wellness shoppers.

Fortunately, supermarkets are in a prime position to offer these consumers exactly what they’re searching for in food. It takes more than just having an appealing and relevant inventory, however; engagement is crucial to help attract and retain today’s consumers who are looking for wellness solutions.

Shine a spotlight on product attributes

Transparency is quickly becoming a necessity in the retail food industry. Shoppers want to know where the food they consume was grown or produced, what it contains (and what it doesn’t contain), and how it can support their healthy lifestyle. Don’t leave it up to chance and risk a missed sales opportunity. This is where clean labeling comes in. Given that many of the products sold in in-store bakeries and delis contain a minimal amount of ingredients (compared with many center-aisle dry goods), the fresh perimeter is in the perfect position to connect with wellness shoppers. Besides the short list of product ingredients, also focus on other perceived health attributes that shoppers may be looking for, such as protein-rich, gluten-free, organic, non-GMO, no preservatives, no artificial flavors or locally sourced.

emphasize the “fresh” factor 

Nothing conveys the idea of healthy eating like fresh food. Make sure that this message resonates in all of your store’s marketing, promotions, displays, cases and merchandising concepts.  Today’s consumers no longer look to their local supermarket as simply a destination for grocery stock-up trips; they view it as a place to experience new products and learn about their food. In fact, the storytelling component is vital in today’s retail food marketplace. Whether it’s through in-store messaging, social media or traditional advertising, telling the narrative behind your fresh food offerings will resonate with shoppers.

Provide ideas on meal solutions

Deciding what to eat, prepare or purchase for their families is a real dilemma for many shoppers, with some scrambling for ideas right up to the time of the dining occasion. In-store delis and prepared food departments are the perfect solutions. Provide shoppers with a selection of meal solutions, sides and ways they can personalize their orders, such as selecting the type of fresh-baked bread they’d like for their sandwiches, or their favorite pizza toppings. Personalization and customization can set your store apart from restaurant competitors, which may not be able to provide these to the same degree that a supermarket can.  Make the most of your store’s in-store production through cross-departmental use of products and services. For example, leverage your store’s fresh bread program by providing traditional, artisan and new varieties of bread to your store’s sandwich program or prepared food department.

Sales of fresh perimeter products are growing at a faster rate than those of center store. By focusing on the appeal, variety and freshness factor of in-store delis, bakeries and prepared food departments, stores can boost their image as a true destination for today’s wellness shopper.

About the Author

Eric Richard

Eric Richard is education coordinator at the Madison, Wis.-based International Dairy Deli Bakery Association.

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