As home cooking has experienced a remarkable rebound (thanks to economics, television, and a growing interest in healthy eating that spans the generations), there are tremendous opportunities for retailers to turn food shoppers into housewares buyers, according to a panel of retailers and category experts at the 2016 International Home + Housewares Show today.
The seminar, “Turning Food Shoppers into Housewares Buyers,” featured a panel including Mark Mechelse, director of research, industry insights & communications, Global Market Development Center; Brett Bradshaw, president, Bradshaw International Inc.; Joe Kirby, vice president of retail sales and category development, Imperial Distributors Inc.; Anna Manicini, vice president of merchandising, Valu Merchandisers Co.; and Tammy Marlowe, director of GM/HBW, Associated Food Stores, Inc. Retail Insights thought leader Todd Hale (formerly of Nielsen) served as moderator.
An important but basic starting point is moving from the term “kitchenware” to “food prep,” which is how the shopper shops and thinks about the healthy preparation of fresh food items, according to Mechelse. “In order to start talking about opportunities for food prep, we need to start breaking down the silos between food items and non-food items in stores,” he said.
The panel agreed that sales increase – often significantly — when food prep items are merchandised alongside fresh items in the perimeter of stores. That could be as basic as a pineapple corer displayed adjacent to fresh whole pineapples or a more ambitious program that includes multiple food prep and food items, recipes, recommendations or onsite demonstrations.
“One of the main things we need to do is continue to win on the perimeter of the store,” said Bradshaw. “Consumers are time-starved, but they want to eat healthy meals.” Manicini agreed: “Consumers are looking for healthier foods, more super-ingredients, and they’re looking for help in terms of making good food choices.”
In addition, according to Hale, Millennials shop store perimeters – where the deli, meat and produce departments are – more than the center store, where kitchen prep items usually are located.
Retailers should also use special promotions to attract attention to food prep items. After all, 50 percent of all shoppers are influenced by what they see in stores, according to Mechelse.
“In food stores, we have the advantage of consumers making multiple trips,” said Kirby. “How can you mix things up each time a customer visits your store?”
That may mean special displays of turkey basters or potato mashers at Thanksgiving or avocado pitters or peelers before Cinco de Mayo. “But promotions or special displays don’t have to be just during the big holidays,” pointed out Marlowe. “There are birthdays, anniversaries, everyday get-togethers. Any kind of seasonal, solution-driven display is valuable.” In-store demos often yield a high return.
Partnerships between vendors and retailers are important when creating special displays or promotions, or even to help with logistics.
“It’s not just about the product,” said Bradshaw, noting his company can assist with fixtures in all different shapes and sizes for displays. “Fixtures become really important as we move items from the center of the store to the perimeter,” agreed Manicini.
Last but not least, retailers need to make sure they know their consumers and are speaking to them. “When you think about speaking to Millennials, it’s important to remember that you need to speak to them differently,” Hale pointed out. Also, each generation is more multi-cultural than the next. “If you see people who look like you in ads, you’re more likely to respond,” he said.
A digital strategy, cause-marketing, and ethnic marketing were all mentioned as ways of reaching and connecting with today’s consumers.