Dairy Boosts Meal Solutions Setups Without Promotional Pricing or Marketing
Research released in early May from the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy® showed that combining dairy products with other meal-building products through meal-solution merchandising can drive substantial sales impact for grocery retailers.
According to findings from a nationwide pilot test to identify best practices and validate consumer acceptance of a meal solutions program, the five pilot concepts drove an average 19.2 percent increase in units sold and 20.5 percent increase in dollar sales—all without promotional pricing or additional marketing support.
The research involved five merchandising concepts. One was for the morning meal, called Breakfast Zone; two were for snacking occasions, called Fuel Your Day and Perfect Pairings; and two were dinner-focused: Chef’s Creation and What’s For Dinner.
One example given in the report, titled “Dairy Meal Solutions: Merchandising Works,” was a What’s For Dinner display that was developed based on the reality that moms are time-starved and looking for convenient, nutritious, family-pleasing dinner solutions.
The display (see graphic) was a dedicated endcap positioned near the dairy department (or other high-traffic location). New recipes were presented weekly, along with a preview of the next week’s recipe. The recipes were made up of family-friendly products. One of these was Beef Burritos with Pepper Jack Cheese and Black Beans.
The display featured the ingredients: black beans, corn, green onions, ground beef, shredded cheeses, sour cream and tortillas.
Consumers said they liked the ongoing recipe rotation, which prompted them to come back to the store. They also said they liked having everything needed for the meal available at the display, which made shopping quicker and meal planning easier. The burrito was one of the top recipes tested, as was a Three Cheese Veggie Beef Calzone.
Each merchandising concept was tested for consumer perception in addition to units sold and dollar sales.
Out of this research came six “key takeaways” for supermarkets:
- Convenience: Include convenience as a core consideration for all meal solution merchandising executions, as consumers demonstrated a strong interest in convenience.
- Location: Situate displays earlier in the shopping process to position them as a solution provider vs. a nice afterthought. Location is a key success factor, as displays need to be in places that make intuitive sense to the shopper.
- Visibility: Ensure that consumers can clearly see all signage, which will help grow their understanding of the concept. Display visibility has a key role in performance.
- Specificity: Identify and include only products that truly address the merchandising concept’s specific needstate. Extraneous SKUs are a distraction.
- Simplicity: Keep the product mix and the number of SKUs simple to help enhance consumer acceptance.
- Long-Term Solution: Initiate a long-term meal solutions merchandising program that is refreshed often vs. a shorter campaign. It takes time, exposure and planning for consumers to adjust their behavior.
The Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy is staffed and supported by Dairy Management Inc. (DMI). For more information, visit www.usdairy.com.