Food Forum: Capturing the foodservice dollar in the deli

There is more to navigating the fresh and prepared meal space than just
offering rotisserie chicken and hot soups.

By T Fuqua

T-HeadshotIt is no secret that the foodservice and grocery industries have long been in competition to capture the consumer dollar. As shoppers continue to look for quality and convenience in fresh prepared meal options, grocery stores are in a prime position to grab a share of the marketplace.

Grocery stores have an advantage, with the consumer already in the store, but only about one in four shoppers visit the deli section where much of the fresh prepared foods are typically offered. To make the most out of this category and capture a share of the foodservice marketplace grocers must recognize the strong competition, grab the attention of the appropriate audience and give customers what they want, when they want it.

Recognize the Competition
Grocery stores that recognize that quick-service and limited-service restaurants are, indeed, competition are already ahead. On average, there is a quick-service restaurant positioned within 200 yards of every grocery store deli, and customers are often headed that way after their shopping trip to grab dinner for the family. Grocery store delis can offer the same thing as quick-service restaurants, and much more, with a leg up on the competition. Shoppers are already there and would rather not make an extra stop if they can conveniently get everything they need in one spot.

Capture Your Audience
About 60% of shoppers make a list before visiting a grocery store. Those shoppers may not know that you offer fresh prepared foods, especially when you are introducing a new product. To capture the right audience, grocery delis should advertise digitally and in print to get on that list and make sure that shoppers seek out their product.

There is also a huge opportunity for grocery stores to use creative in-store advertising techniques that drive shoppers to the fresh prepared foods section in the deli. Shoppers are highly driven by impulse, so portraying images of deli items with enticing messages can quickly lure them to your fresh prepared meals section and inspire them to buy on the spot.

Deli meats and cold prepared foods are SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program)-eligible, but not all shoppers that use SNAP cards actually know that. If your deli is offering cold prepared foods, make sure you have tapped into this audience by displaying SNAP signage in your store, including SNAP-eligibility copy in your print ads and training your staff to recognize eligible SNAP items.

Respond to Consumer Need
Grocers need to constantly stay on top of retail trends and adjust offerings according to the changing landscape. The deli is no exception. The foodservice industry has seen a recent shift in demand for chicken products to boneless offerings. In a recent report from Technomic, 58% of consumers surveyed strongly prefer boneless chicken options over bone-in items. Boneless chicken options such as Tyson Simply Fried Boneless Fried Chicken are easier for shoppers to eat and take on-the-go, allowing grocery retailers to capitalize on consumer trends.

Additionally, consumer demand for side dishes is increasing. According to Nielsen Perishables Group FreshFacts, in the past five years, deli side dish sales grew an average of 4.3% year-over-year. Offering varieties of fresh prepared ready-to-go side dishes at the deli provides shoppers with options as opposed to bundled meals at quick-service restaurants.

Have Product Available at Optimum Selling Time
Quick-service restaurants always have items available for their customers. However, grocery stores often run out of popular items with no products to refresh the shelves immediately. Always having items in stock is an opportunity to grow business. Aside from being in stock, grocery stores can offer an in-stock guarantee and substitute items for free if the product becomes unavailable.

Most deli sales occur during prime lunch and dinner times, with approximately 25% of deli sales taking place between 11 a.m. – 1 p.m., and more than 30% taking place between 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. Train your staff to be fully prepared during this time, refreshing deli displays often and making sure that high selling items are exposed in high traffic areas. With deli shoppers being so impulse driven, having the right products in front of the customer at the right time will increase sales.

T Fuqua is a brand manager, at Tyson Foods. 

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