Meet the Keeley family of Warrenville, Illinois. They are one of several families Tyson Foods-Deli recently invited to take the Prepared Foods Challenge4. It seemed easy enough, to make dinner every night for a week using prepared foods from local grocery stores. But what the Keeley family soon discovered was not the fun adventure they expected but a full-blown prepared foods failure. It started when they arrived at the store and looked at what was being displayed in the deli case. It got worse when they brought the food home and tasted it.
The Keeleys’ experience is not unique. In fact, it reflects a disturbing trend of across-the-board failures, as documented in numerous studies conducted by Tyson Foods1234. Shoppers consistently ranked their satisfaction with retail prepared foods significantly below the rest of the store. In one study, 48 percent of prepared foods shoppers experienced one or more of the top three failures in a 90-day period³. Products were dry and overcooked. Service issues ranged from staff being slow and unhelpful to unknowledgeable and were compounded by general issues like long wait times. The impact of those failures was significant and wide reaching. Even the best performing stores failed to please shoppers, with only 69 percent saying they’d be proud to serve that store’s prepared food products. The worst performing stores satisfied only 51 percent of the time³. Half of the shoppers who experienced problems said they would not return to that store for some period of time. Some said they’d never go back.
Tyson Foods estimates the loss of revenue in prepared foods sales in just one year, for just one failing store, is $65,000. That number is additionally compounded by the store’s lost revenue in other departments because when prepared foods customers stopped shopping the deli, they also stopped shopping the entire store. On top of that, shopper satisfaction levels have continued to fall in survey after survey, year after year and store after store.
The Keeley family’s experience explains why deli is broken, but it also reveals how it can be transformed. Something amazing happened to their perspective of prepared foods, and we should take notice. It changed when they became educated and inspired about how to use the items that had been right in front of them all along. It didn’t take new equipment or new products, just a new focus on shopper- and meal-centric solutions.
Everything changed for the Keeley family because they took the Prepared Foods Challenge. In doing so, they showed us what Tyson Foods research has been telling us, that shoppers crave a more satisfying prepared foods experience². It must start with friendly, knowledgeable staff and freshly prepared products, ready at peak times³. But it needs to be about more than good execution. It must include educating and inspiring the shopper to use prepared foods, in conjunction with the store’s other products, to create convenient meal solutions.
1. Tyson Foods, On the Go Study, 2015
2. Tyson Foods, Emotional Trigger Study, 2016
3. Tyson Foods, Consequences of Failure, 2015 and 2016
4. Tyson Foods, Prepared Foods Challenge, June 2016