United's Texas-size Tailgaters

While plenty of fans are taking their tailgating playbooks to new heights these days with more sophisticated fare, center of the plate proteins still remain the stalwart MVPs at most tailgate feasts, where grilling is bigger than ever and increasingly preferred over high-priced stadium fare.

It thus goes without saying that game day tailgating trends bode favorably for higher rings throughout the entire store, but particularly in the meat and deli departments, where seasoned, sizzlin' favorites enjoy a stellar opportunity to score big with well-orchestrated game plans.

One such tailgating retail enthusiast is Eddie Owens, director of communications for Lubbock, Texas-based United Supermarkets. "It is safe to say Texans -- especially west Texans -- are clearly football fans above all other sports. We do more to merchandise football season than any other season," says Owens, adding that, "Our stores do their best to promote and support the local teams, college or pro. For the most part, though, we have found that college football is king."

To court fans to its stores in a state where college football is often equated with a religious cult, the 51-store United Supermarkets fires up its tailgating displays in its stores to showcase as many items as possible. "For example, in our Lubbock Market Street stores, we set up a grill and a Texas Tech tailgate tent where we feature all of the Tech-related products underneath, from cooking utensils to tailgating chairs," explains Owens.

Signature Beef

When discussing key elements of the tailgating promotional playbook on tap for United Supermarkets' eponymous supermarkets, as well as its Market Street and Amigos locations dotted across 30 metro markets throughout north and west Texas, Owens says its recently launched signature Genuine Texas Beef is in the center of the strategic merchandising huddle.

"As an exclusive product for United Supermarkets, we do everything we can to highlight the Texas-raised quality beef line where store space will allow. When we started carrying the Texas-produced meat products, we added signage on our displays and, in some cases, on the interior facades of our stores. We also recently held a Best of Texas Expo in our Market Street locations to feature Genuine Texas Beef and all of the Texas grown or produced products that we carry."

Partnering with Cargill for the proprietary Genuine Texas Beef fresh beef line, Scott Nettles, United Supermarkets' business director of meat seafood, notes that the alliance has enabled the regional retailer to "offer local-raised beef of the highest quality and freshness, as well as support the local economy."

Through consumer research, Nettles says that United and Cargill determined that Texans like their beef, like to know where it comes from, and like it even more when it comes from the Lone Star State. Further, since both companies identified a lack of Texas-branded products in the meat aisle of local stores, the Genuine Texas Beef brand "presents United customers with a fresh and local choice they can feel good about," as he puts it.

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