As summer draws to a close and households prepare to face the hustle and bustle of back-to-school time, retail dietitians are developing merchandising and nutrition communication plans for the fall and winter.
It won’t be long before families are planning and hosting tailgating parties, Thanksgiving celebrations and winter holiday gatherings. Take advantage of these key seasonal opportunities to guide shoppers toward healthier food options.
Supplying customers with healthful recipes for seasonal entertaining can be an effective sales driver when integrated with sales promotions and display plans that highlight key ingredients in both in the ad circular and in store. Recipe development may involve adding a healthier twist to traditional party foods like chili or Buffalo wings, or incorporating current culinary techniques and ingredient trends. Various reports describing the attitudes and behaviors of highly coveted Millennial shoppers indicate that they’re particularly likely to make impulse purchases when provided with recipe ideas.
Tailgating celebrations are about football, fun, and enjoying delicious snacks and appetizers. It may take a “stealth-health” approach to entice the average tailgater to add better-for-you menu options to his or her halftime spread. Focus first on attracting customers to healthful choices through solutions that promise to deliver big on taste, and then highlight positive nutritional messages as a bonus. Hosting in-store recipe-tasting events centered on a tailgating theme can engage customers in fun food experiences, allowing them to try before they buy while spurring sales lifts of key ingredients.
Fall is a time for merchandising and communications plans that include seasonal favorites such as pumpkin and squashes, roasted vegetables, and warm apple cider. Customers are especially interested in higher-margin, value-added produce items that offer convenience, such as peeled and diced butternut squash, pre-cut veggies with flavor-infused oils, or cider with mulling spices. Popular themed consumer communications at this time of the year include a healthy spin on Thanksgiving favorites, how to host a gluten-free holiday meal and what to make with leftover turkey.
While consumers may have healthy aspirations throughout the year, the desire to live a healthy lifestyle is harder to stick to during holidays. Attitudes and good intentions don’t always match behaviors when it comes to festive food purchases. Offer recipe and serving concepts that provide mini indulgences to satisfy once-a-year cravings while offering the benefits of portion control, such as bite-sized appetizers, petite cookies touting healthy add-ins, or shot-glass-size desserts.
Feast for the Eyes
Does your merchandising plan include high-quality custom photographs of your recipes to share via company communications and social media outlets? Are you taking it a step further to create food preparation instructional videos to deliver to customers via blog, e-blast, corporate website and YouTube?
Food and meal imagery has become an increasingly important tool to influence consumer purchasing decisions. Food and drink is the No. 1 category on Pinterest today, and Facebook and Twitter posts accompanied by imagery garner higher clicks, comments, likes and shares. Curating and delivering meaningful content will continue to be an important way to strengthen grocer relationships with customers.
The desire to live a healthy lifestyle is harder to stick to during holidays. Offer concepts that provide mini indulgences to satisfy once-a-year cravings.