Happier Holidays for Grocers

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Happier Holidays for Grocers

By Bridget Goldschmidt - 10/29/2019
Happier Holidays for Grocers
La Brea Bakery has brought back its fan-favorite Cranberry Walnut loaf for the holidays

The fall and winter holidays are once more looming, and grocers are once more in the midst of planning for these occasions, which involve a lot of parties thrown by consumers. The following companies shared with Progressive Grocer their advice on how supermarkets can capitalize on the season through optimal products and promotions:

Brie Buenning, Integrated Marketing Manager, La Brea Bakery, San Leandro, Calif.  

During the holidays, consumers are eager to get their hands on foods that capture the essence of the season, so we’ve seen a lot of limited-time-only foods made with seasonal flavors – pumpkin, cranberries, cinnamon –  hit shelves in early fall to kick-start the holiday season. Last year, La Brea Bakery relaunched the popular White Chocolate Cranberry Loaf, made with tart cranberries and the subtly smooth sweetness of white chocolate. We’ll also be bringing back our fan-favorite Holiday Stuffing and Cranberry Walnut flavors. Available in both our traditional loaves and our Take & Bake loves and rolls, these breads are anything but ordinary and offer complementing flavor profiles with the likes of thyme, tart cranberries, subtly sweet white chocolate, rosemary, and more.

The holiday season is a pivotal time of year for the brand, as bread sales peak in November and December. Around holidays like Thanksgiving in particular, where bread is a staple at the table, La Brea Bakery sees a spike in sales, reaching five times, or 500%, higher than average.

Specific to the holidays, seasonal deals where consumers are rewarded for purchasing set amounts of holiday foods can give them a reason to buy and stock up.

In reference to specific products, we see the flavors of the holiday seasons continue to be something brands are incorporating into their foods, offering limited-time-only items that consumers demand each year. Some of these include pumpkin spice, apple, maple and savory flavors that come from popular traditional dishes found at the table.

The partnership between brands and grocers is extremely important to maintain year-round, but particularly in anticipation of the holiday season. It’s important [that] brands and grocers work together to prepare for the holiday season to ensure consumers are able to easily identify and buy the foods they can use for entertaining. 

"The partnership between brands and grocers is extremely important to maintain year-round, but particularly in anticipation of the holiday season."
Brie Buenning, La Brea Bakery

Bridget Wasser, Meat Scientist and Executive Director of Meat Science and Supply Chain Outreach, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, Centennial, Colo. 

As you know, the holiday season will be upon us before we know it. A great way to entertain during the holiday season is DIY butchery – whether breaking down a strip loin to show off your skills, or using it as an opportunity to customize cuts for everyone in the family, DIY butchery [is] on trend.

This DIY butchery trend can be extended into the most popular cuts for holiday entertaining: roasts. To give home cooks a hand in the kitchen, the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. brand introduced the all-knowing beef expert Chuck Knows Beef. Not only does Chuck Knows Beef provide recipes, he also has great cooking tips, and even a sense of humor. Chuck can be easily accessed at his website or by simply enabling Chuck Knows Beef with Amazon Alexa or Google Home Assistant devices.

Happier Holidays for Grocers
Stonewall Kitchen employs festive packaging for its holiday items

Matt Robertson, Marketing Manager, Stonewall Kitchen LLC, York, Maine

With our wide variety of products and the limitless ways to use them, we find with all the holiday festivities, Q4 is our busiest time of year.

We are fortunate to have a wonderful visual merchandise team for our nine retail company stores. They create beautifully executed themed displays – we call them stories – for each season. The visual display shows guests creative ways to use our products for each occasion.

Andrew Quinn, Hormel Foods: "There’s an opportunity to take concepts that have become mainstream offerings on menus across the country and bring them to life in the retail environment."

Andrew Quinn, Senior Brand Manager, Deli, Hormel Foods, Austin, Minn. 

Approximately 90% of Americans entertain in their home at least once a year. The occasion and the food they serve can vary, based on how formal (or informal) the occasion is. Millennials embrace new foods and seek to share those experiences with their social circle at their next holiday or get-together. In fact, Millennials have spawned new “holidays,” or reasons to get together, outside of the traditional ones, such as Friendsgiving and Kentucky Derby parties.

Consumers are always looking for new and unique ways to entertain their guests, but the rapid rise in charcuterie has been a common trend that we are seeing. The idea of romancing meat, cheese and other accompaniments that complement one another aligns well with the various brands we have that play within this space. Hormel Gatherings party trays work well for the everyday occasion and are family favorites, whereas our line of Columbus craft meats offerings affords consumers the ability to craft their customer solutions. 

There’s a fine balance between offering solutions that are easy for consumers to enjoy [and] educating consumers around what exists. Providing pairing recommendations across meat, cheese and various beverages helps consumers engage with our great products. Meat, cheese and crackers are a flexible staple of entertaining, which makes our HormelGatherings party trays or Columbus craft meats offerings perfect options for a variety of occasions.

The holidays are a great time of year to drive trial with consumers. With a heavy focus around gathering with friends and family for the holidays, it is a perfect opportunity to roll out new concepts.

There’s an opportunity to take concepts that have become mainstream offerings on menus across the country and bring them to life in the retail environment. While it is important to rely on eating trends with the development of innovation, the ideas must be executed in a fashion that aligns with how consumers use the products. Finding creative ways to bring appetizer favorites to life could prove to be a lucrative opportunity.

About the Author

Bridget Goldschmidt

Bridget Goldschmidt

Bridget Goldschmidt is Progressive Grocer's managing editor. Read More