Posts tagged "supermarket"

Emergent Announces Emerge Partnership with FMI

July 10th, 2018 Posted by CMO, Emerging brands, Food Trend, Growth, Healthy Living, Navigation, retail brand relevance, Supermarket strategy 0 comments on “Emergent Announces Emerge Partnership with FMI”

Mentoring for the greater good in food and beverage business

Today Emergent formally announces a partnership with the Food Marketing Institute’s new Emerge platform, a forum to help nurture and grow new, developing food brands on their way to potential stardom.

FMI recently created Emerge (love the name!!) as a path to helping its stakeholder base of food retailers and CPG brands, realize growth opportunities presented by investments in developing food and beverage companies. It’s no secret these nascent brands are now gaining shelf space and consumer devotion, often at the expense of legacy brands that at one time dominated the food preferences of American households.

  • At stake for all is helping scale these new enterprises without inadvertently upsetting the proverbial applecart ̶ by violating the product truths and marketing rules that influence their hard-won fan base.

Emergent was established to help food, beverage and lifestyle brands successfully navigate the sea change from interruption style, talk-at marketing and communications to a more healthy lifestyle relevant and participatory model. In keeping with this mission, we have focused also on emerging brands and the distinct differences that govern their go-to-market best practices.

We saw an opportunity through our long-standing alliance with FMI and the evolution now taking place at food retail, to be of greater service and value in helping organizations deal with the seismic changes going on in the industry. We have joined Emerge as a Mentoring partner, there to offer our deep experience and familiarity with how consumers behave and marketplaces evolve, to help these new food ideas gain a faster footing in the race to meaningful volume.

We’ve had the distinct pleasure of meeting and guiding entrepreneurs who are making a difference in their efforts to create a sustainable business while also embracing a higher purpose. This matters to us greatly because we have a mission, too.

Our higher purpose is to influence the health and wellbeing of people by helping improve the food and beverage industry’s efforts to align more closely with preferences for a healthier lifestyle. Our values are their values and vice-versa.

As business people we respect the need for all parties to achieve scale while maintaining the integrity of the original concept and remaining faithful to the principles that guided the creation of the business.

In this, we are Mentors that understand the motivations and desires of those who create these new companies as much as we know intimately the needs of people who buy and consume their products.

For that reason we’re honored to join with FMI in this endeavor to embrace change and be a catalyst for helping the industry adapt. The food industry is unique in its blending of technology and emotion – a perfect alchemy that respects the fact we eat to nourish and experience enjoyment, while recognizing the impact the food system has on the world around us.

Best time ever to be in the food and beverage brand building business!! Thanks FMI for inviting us.

Looking for more food for thought? Subscribe to our blog.

Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, the healthy living agency. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies.  Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

 

 

Millennials and Meal Kits: Will Dynamic Duo Shine in Supermarkets?

March 15th, 2018 Posted by brand marketing, CMO, Culinary inspiration, Culinary lifestyle, food experiences, food retail strategy, Food service, Food Trend, shopper behavior, Supermarket strategy 0 comments on “Millennials and Meal Kits: Will Dynamic Duo Shine in Supermarkets?”

Retail kit growth could impact restaurant business…

Recently we learned that Walmart is planning to introduce prepared foods and meal kits to their stores nationally. This action is in response to an increased interest among Millennial shoppers for more convenient and higher quality, fresh ingredient meal solutions.

Given Walmart’s massive size, the impact of this move could create more challenges for an already stressed restaurant marketplace and help trigger other supermarket companies to upgrade their own meal kit strategies, compounding the impact. Technomic reports business has slowed for the last two years at the nation’s top 500 restaurants. At casual chains like Olive Garden and Chili’s, growth went from an average 4.7 percent in 2015 to flat in 2017.

Millennial preference for home cooked meals

According to Port Washington, NY-based NPD Group, 83 percent of Millennial consumers report more cooking at home and fewer restaurant visits, while 63 percent of Millennials say they want to cook more.

Concurrently the supermarket business is in the midst of transformation as Millennial shoppers flipped the script, causing a move away from traditional center store packaged foods, to shopping the perimeter departments for fresh, real food options. The fresh trend is seen as evidence of their preference for home prepared meals. Thus, also helping explain why legacy “big food” brands have seen their market shares decline in key packaged food categories over the last 10 years.

  • At the core of this behavior is a central theme: virtually all generation cohorts – from Boomers to Gen Z – have connected the dots between higher quality, real food experiences and desire for a healthier lifestyle.

The interest in cooking at home is an outgrowth of efforts to assert greater control over ingredient quality, preparations and portion sizes along with the ability to better manage household food spending. At Emergent we see another explanation: the consumer’s love affair with food and culinary inspiration continues. The desire to exercise that creative calling in the kitchen is strong as it fulfills the number one driver for food purchase and consumption: healthy lifestyle. Consumers tacitly believe that home cooked food is healthier.

Boxed food adventures

Perhaps one of the most important, embedded features of meal kits is the ability to experiment with new cuisines and flavors at low risk and with ingredients already portioned and in some cases prepped.

When dinner is now often decided at 5 pm the day of consumption, kits are an enticing just-in–time option to solve the meal need, without having to shop a 50,000 square foot store for five to seven items. It’s a form of high quality culinary convenience that meal kit companies like Albertson’s Plated brand often deliver with a backstory and ethos sitting underneath.

Millennials passed Boomers in 2016 to become the largest domestic audience of shoppers, numbering some 75.4 million topping the Boomer generation’s previous lead of 74.9 million mouths. This generation has grown up with global cuisine; the rise of specialty food markets, locally-sourced ingredients, unique restaurant concepts, and even chef-driven bar food.

It’s telling to note that fully 24 percent of the entire Millennial cohort shopped Whole Foods last year even though the chain has only 430 stores – a remarkable statement about their interest in higher quality food options.

As e-commerce gobbles up more transactions for pantry stock-ups, the food retail business will depend increasingly on its ability to curate unique food experiences and fresh ingredient solutions – and that plays right into the hands of grab-and-go kits. What’s not to like, as kits deliver:

  • Curated don’t-have-to-think-about-it menus
  • More convenient scratch cooking solutions
  • Wholesome, higher quality ingredients
  • Easier and quicker prep time
  • Experimentation vehicle for new cuisines, new techniques and personal customization

Food-enthusiastic supermarket?

The meal kit business is symptomatic of larger changes looming ahead in food retail as e-commerce disintermediates the packaged foods category. As a result, supermarkets will be forced to redefine their models once built around selling those packaged products at volume to fuel the balance sheet.

Emergent believes the future of food retail lies in mining culinary inspiration and food experience. Creating the Disneyland effect of “magic” around food adventure and the consumer’s interests in more innovative and interesting food solutions.

Can the food enthusiastic grocery be far behind? The growth of groceraunt concepts will continue to gain ground as food retailers look to leverage their expanding commissary investments for meals to be consumed on site – yet another customer relationship building opportunity! We anticipate more supermarket jobs for classically-trained chefs as a result.

What’s next for foodservice?

Restaurants are entering a new era of innovation competition to more rapidly evolve menu boards and offerings that reflect the cutting edge shifts in tastes, new ingredients and food culture. Restaurants have always been the tip of the spear in new food trends that then trickle down into other channels in the food industry.

Now more than ever the call to action gains momentum for restaurant companies to explore tastes, preparations and ideas to stay ahead as supermarkets improve their fresh food quality, ingredient standards and Deli menus.

It seems to us that restaurant companies also need to explore further the equity in their own brands to potentially create new signature food products that compete in other channels – much as Dunkin Donuts has done with their superb coffee line and Panera with their soups.

  • Millennials’ enthusiasm for food and healthy lifestyle will continue to push grocers to earn their business by providing the quality, selection, and preparation options they want. Restaurants, while innovating on flavor and cuisine, may need to consider expanded channels as enhanced, food-enthusiastic food retailers vie for share of meal occasions.

This may be the most exciting time ever to be in the food business!

Looking for more food for thought? Subscribe to our blog.

Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, the healthy living agency. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies.  Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

 

 

 

 

 

Shop to eat or eat what you shop?

October 3rd, 2017 Posted by consumer behavior, Consumer insight, Digital marketing, food retail strategy, Food Trend, grocery e-commerce, retail brand relevance, shopper experience, Supermarket strategy 0 comments on “Shop to eat or eat what you shop?”

Here’s the runway for grocery e-commerce expansion

A more European-like view of food preferences and shopping is sweeping the retail landscape as consumers shop for meals rather than pantry stock-ups: more trips, more often with smaller baskets aimed at mealtime solutions. The implications of this behavior shift on retail business models and  e-commerce strategy is no less than transformational.

Online grocery’s convenience bona fides are already well positioned to capture increased share of stock-up shopping trips, focused primarily on shelf stable packaged foods and beverages.

However, new insight on consumer food shopping behavior raises a challenge and opportunity that if addressed successfully, could fuel exponential online growth. You need look no further than the decision around ‘what’s for dinner’ – which today is often resolved in a quick grocery store trip a mere few hours before sitting down to eat.

Perhaps most immediately pressing on the potential escalation of grocery e-commerce is the relationship between this shop-for-meal trend and fast order, delivery or click-and-collect fulfillment. Success here could leverage a significant pain point of escalating frustration embedded in the brick and mortar food shopping experience.

  • Important to note here, Emergent has studied e-commerce extensively and concluded that consumer trust remains a significant near-in barrier to business growth. Shopping online for fresh food requires consumer belief that e-commerce platforms can be depended upon to select, on the consumer’s behalf, the highest quality fresh perishable items like meat, fish and produce.
  • As this trust issue is resolved and consumer confidence takes hold, fresh and perishable sales in e-commerce will rapidly rise, and with it, the economic models of food retail will change forever.

With e-commerce’s historic advantage in online proficiency, industry watchers have noted: “Amazon’s capital and tech-fueled infrastructure is poised to rapidly expand same-day fill-in shopping of perishable food as trust in the e-commerce portal grows.” Hartman Group Executive, Q3 2017

 

Smaller baskets create grocery store shopping friction and e-commerce opportunity

According to IRI, 64 percent of grocery visits are now quick, focused, rapid-shopping trips for a limited basket (IRI, The Omnichannel, September 2016). Yes, we are witnessing in real time a major behavior change as the distance between buying and consuming collapses.

Traditional food retail was never designed with this kind of meal shopping in mind. Navigating a 60,000 square foot store for five to seven items can become annoying. The smaller the shopping basket, the more egregious and noticeable the time commitment is to travel the store footprint in search of a few items. Younger audiences especially are less tolerant of these time inefficiencies.

  • So what does it mean when pantry shopping gives way to just-in-time menu procurement? It puts in motion the conditions leading to a potential surge in online food shopping growth. Online can take the cart navigation discomfort out of the shopping experience.

There is however another consideration…

E-commerce must align with the consumer’s emotional connection to food

First, trust issues around fresh/perishable selection have to be resolved. If e-commerce is to play a substantive role in helping consumers with their dinner plans, more effort is required to recognize and leverage the real passion and care consumers have around fresh food – unlike any other product category offered online.

Virtually every food e-tailer is positioned in similar ways on convenience claims. Therein lies the next challenge: e-commerce constructed to answer transactional simplicity and convenience must not overlook the consumers’ emotion-rich interests around food.

  • It should be noted that meal kit companies do a much better job in the online environment delivering this kind of information and product backstory via content on ingredient sourcing, food experience and culinary adventure.

So for the most part, the online food environment remains a single instrument playing the song of products, prices and a virtual basket to fill. Unfulfilled as of yet, is the food e-commerce platform offering a complete orchestra and symphony of food story and guidance to home cooks hungering for their next meal adventure.

When e-commerce begins to push past the transactional and into the consumer’s relationship with food, magic could happen as the consumer comes to believe that online food shopping, and a differentiated online banner, offers much more than purchase simplicity.

Looking for more food for thought? Subscribe to our blog.

Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, the healthy living agency. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies.  Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

Local Foods: Fresh Retail Leverage and Differentiation

May 24th, 2017 Posted by food experiences, Food Trend, shopper behavior, Supermarket strategy 0 comments on “Local Foods: Fresh Retail Leverage and Differentiation”

Thoughts on Food Retail Reinvention

Here in Chicago it’s that time of year again when Farmers’ Markets start popping up all over the city. When growing season kicks in, people gravitate to locally-grown and made foods in search of what they believe is better quality, freshness, flavor and a chance at chatting with the producer.

According to the “Firmly Rooted” local food movement study by A.T. Kearney, local product assortment at food retail is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s now a competitive advantage. Why? Because shoppers increasingly value it, will pay more for it, and it’s a driver not only of purchase but also store visits.

Kearney reports that local was a $12 billion business in 2014, with an annual growth forecast of 9 percent a year through 2018. If anything the local movement is accelerating as fresher becomes a significant factor in consumer preference.

The Kearney study revealed:

96 percent of respondents define local as produced within a 100-mile radius. While various classes of food retail may expand this to anywhere from 400 miles to statewide. Of note, consumers believe the circle is tighter.

93 percent associate local with fresher, a primary purchase driver.

78 percent are willing to pay a price premium for local of anywhere from 10 percent more to upwards of 21 percent (local eggs) in certain categories.

63 percent say they believe retailers are starting to offer wider assortments of locally-produced products, including prepared and packaged foods.

71 percent say by offering local products, retailers are doing more to support small businesses and help the local economy.

Barriers to Business Growth

What’s standing in the way of buying more locally-produced items? Shoppers say they don’t know where those products are in the store due to inconsistent signage and lack of cohesive display. Merchandising and marketing need to catch up.

63 percent say they will visit a retailer if notified about in-season, in-stock products. Doing so will require an investment in social and digital marketing to get the word out.

More importantly, this helps shed light on a cultural shift now influencing retail best practices. In the past, a food store existed primarily to drive transactions. Traditional metric analyses of sales and profit per square foot and average transaction/basket size would certainly attest to that. While these remain important assessments of performance, is it the only measure that should be applied?

As food retail evolves we can expect to see disintermediation of shippable commodities that will increasingly go online, while food and culinary experience becomes a bigger business and priority.

Reimagined food retail must work harder at creating an immersive food experience, bringing the farm and flavor adventure to the store. Yes, even some fresh products may migrate to e-commerce and delivery. However, we believe there is a significant segment of the market that prefers the tactile, visual, emotional and sensory-satisfying familiarity of hands-on food experiences.

Measurement and profit models will evolve with this change as stores further invest in perimeter businesses, commissaries and locally-sourced products.

Food is an emotional category. This sensory appeal can be harnessed to great effect by retailers who understand the era of selling boxes, cans and bags at velocity is narrowing in favor of real, fresh and prepared food options.

Those still trying to compete on price will increasingly face a “race-to-the-bottom” challenge with the arrival of low-price specialist Lidl, and the battle between Amazon and Walmart to leverage scale for difficult-to-match efficiencies.

You have to think differently about the retail business you’re in. If retail experience counts, then rethinking the actual presentation of these products in tactile, informative and experiential ways would follow. Where:

Food retailer = local culinary adventures

Electronics = hands-on demo depot

Fashion = the style guide

Toy = the playroom

Experience is the new battleground, and content is the marketing play to tell the powerful and valued stories of local sources, supply chain transparency, ingredient integrity, culinary inspiration and FRESH.

Go Local!!

Looking for more food for thought? Subscribe to our blog.

Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, the healthy living agency. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies.  Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

deli shopper

Is Supermarket Prepared Food Ready for Prime Time?

December 7th, 2016 Posted by shopper experience, Supermarket strategy 0 comments on “Is Supermarket Prepared Food Ready for Prime Time?”

Not yet…time to commit to better culinary experiences

Being the home chef and lifelong fan of all things culinary, I find myself in the supermarket regularly. I LOVE IT. This is my favorite form of retail, where need and personal passion will drive behavior. That said, it can also be one of the more all-too frequently disappointing destinations due to the same old, same old aspects of what’s found inside the front door.

I love it enough that when traveling I try to get to the local food emporium just for a look-see in my ongoing fascination with everything grocery. Food is an adventure and I’m a journeyman explorer.

So, in my neighborhood in Chicago, I gravitate to the higher-end options including Mariano’s nearby, Treasure Island is also close and an array of specialists from VIN for wine, Dirk’s for fish and Gephardt’s for butcher. Even with my lean towards better retail banners, I still find supermarket prepared foods and Deli to be often uninspired.

FMI Study Says Deli an Underachiever

A recent report entitled, “The Power of Fresh/Prepared Deli,” from the Food Marketing Institute revealed that only 12 percent of shoppers are regular Deli visitors across all banners and channels. That’s leaving a lot of business on the (hot) table!

In parallel, we have increasing evidence that time-strapped consumers, especially of the Millennial variety, are hungry for more home cooked meals, if only they could get some help with side dishes, partially prepped options (meal kits) and general inspiration (easy-to-do but interesting recipes).

What’s wrong with this picture? A clear and present need followed by a retail opportunity disconnect. Well, I tend to side with consumer preference on this one.

Let’s see, over here at the hot table what do we find? Hmmm…something that looks strangely like high school cafeteria food (apologies to cafeterias that work hard with limited resources and funding). Yes, we have fried chicken probably now entering its especially dried out leather phase, meatloaf (again), mac and cheese (also again), grey green bean casserole (also too much time under the heat lamp) and some scary-looking starches.

In the nearby case we have five varieties of macaroni salad and similar options of potato salad, green bean salad, maybe even Jello® salad. Salad bars are their own unique fantasy food experience where the word wilted is an active verb.

We have shoppers pining for new meal solutions, looking to outsource some or all of their cooking to grocery – that’s missing the bar on prepared foods beyond traditional comfort fare.

If the objective is to lift Deli visits from 12 percent of shoppers to where it should be around 80 percent, what’s the answer?

Better, more interesting food…

If a restaurant served this over-cooked lineup would it still be in business? Probably not. Taste expectations and culinary knowledge is advancing at break-neck pace as everything from food truck to C-store works to improve their fresh offerings. Consumers can tell the difference between good cooking and bad, chef-inspired and pedestrian, so the expectation keeps going up. This just opens the competitive door wider to subscription meal kit companies who begin with higher standards on ingredient quality and innovative menus.

Strategic Mission the First Hurdle

You simply can’t advance on the culinary continuum if your business strategy is first focused solely on moving boxes, cans and bags off shelves (we know center store business matters to the bottom line but it shouldn’t be the sole agenda). Balance sheet issues and velocity will be the primary business model, unless the management team falls in love with food and food experiences. Whichever it is, everyone else on the staff will follow suit.

Culinary Inspiration the Second Hill to Climb

Who’s in the commissary kitchen? Is there a Chief Culinary Officer reporting directly to the C-suite? Is delivering on food adventure a dominant factor in weighing success in terms of shopper experience and menu?

When food culture changes it is imperative to change with it.

Better Deli performance will follow if better, more interesting, and dare I say more exciting food is offered. Ingredient quality is already on the upswing in a big way. Kitchen talent and management just need to get behind the incredible cost advantage that supermarkets enjoy over foodservice and decide, once and for all, that their Deli prepared foods are going to be on par with a restaurant experience.

Just go ask Wegman’s about how that’s working.

I, for one, will be there cart in hand, ready to buy.

Looking for more food for thought? Subscribe to our blog.

Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, the healthy living agency. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies.  Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

fork in the road

We’ve Arrived at a Fork in the Road for Food Retail

December 2nd, 2016 Posted by Retail brand building, retail brand relevance, Supermarket strategy, Uncategorized 0 comments on “We’ve Arrived at a Fork in the Road for Food Retail”

Become a resource about food, or be relegated to a source of product supply.

Many years ago when I lived in Seattle, I had a near-religious experience at a restaurant on Capitol Hill where I had just wrapped up a client lunch meeting. I ordered coffee at the close of the meal and when I tasted it, my jaw nearly dropped to the floor over the rich, deep flavor.

Hints of dark chocolate, beef roast, spice and earthiness filled my mouth. I had never encountered anything like it before – coffee being a bit of a meal-end ritual and nothing to write home about taste wise, I wasn’t expecting anything special.

I discovered the restaurant had switched suppliers and was now ordering from a coffee bean purveyor in the Pike Place Market – yes, it was Starbucks (before it became ubiquitous). I heard word about this place, but had never investigated. That weekend, I made a beeline for the store on Saturday morning – my intent to purchase the same coffee beans I had at the restaurant.

What I encountered there was truly remarkable and remains indelibly imprinted in my brain. This may be partially why I remain a devoted Starbucks bean buyer to this day. I told the counterman (baristas came later) my story and he gave me this knowing smile and launched into a detailed and fascinating tutorial: the beans, their origin, the tasting notes, the growing region characteristics, how they are roasted. Then, he went on to the steps of making a perfect cup of coffee. We tasted, we talked – he made an effort to teach me a bit of what he knew. I walked out of there with beans, grinder and a wealth of new knowledge and appreciation that coffee might be more like wine than, well, coffee. He probably did not know he helped create a lifelong customer but that’s what was going on.

Today, we see a resurgence of food and beverage specialists from fishmongers to butchers to farmers’ markets, where backstories and details behind the products are shared, along with tips related to preparation and serving.

The economics of food retail may have favored stores as product supply aggregators for decades. But the food world is changing in response to cultural shifts among consumers, whose tastes and interest in all things culinary continue to become more sophisticated.

The butcher at your local supermarket can be an order taker who wraps or a storyteller who raps.

There’s a small butcher shop near our weekend home in a rural area of southwest Michigan. The place is small but the quality is over the top. The owners, a father and son team, always begin with conversations about what they’ve tried lately just to whet your appetite, and once you get into selecting a cut of meat, the stories behind the sources, animal care and feeding begin in earnest.

Along with your selection you’ll also get preparation ideas, cooking hints and seasoning tips, maybe even a wine recommendation. Every visit is special because you learn something and the experience matches the quality of the protein. Prices by the way are in line with other grocery stores in the area.

Kevin Coupe of Morning News Beat had a similar experience in his neighborhood and made a video to share what happened:

Retail brand strategy guidance:

Gone are the days when competition is based solely on location, price and assortment. Retailers have an extraordinary opportunity to approach the customer relationship in a new way as educator, guide and coach.

Here’s what we know:

  1. While time remains a challenge, people are headed back into the kitchen where they can control and customize food preparation. They’re looking for ideas and timesaving advice.
  1. Food retail can be a temple to food experience or four-walled pantry. Experience now matters as much as the products themselves.
  1. Unique taste experiences and curated menu guidance are sought after and stores can step in to help make it happen.

Customer contact areas of food retail are an opportunity waiting to happen. Butcher shop, cheese shop, wine department, produce area, bakery, Deli – all are places where experience can match or even exceed the product quality.

Is it possible for supermarket staff to be trained beyond stocking and cashiering? Can there be a true love of food, so much so the shopper encounters a food-passionate employee in the aisles?

What is food about anyway? It’s a culinary adventure. Retailers who see themselves as facilitators and enablers of this journey have an opportunity to jump the perceptual barriers and engender a new kind of customer loyalty. A loyalty based on a personal retail experience enhanced by culinary guidance and customer service – going way beyond the product assortment.

With high staff turnover rates in most retail channels, how can you make the investment in training? It starts with a strategic mission and understanding about what kind of retail experience you’re trying to create.

So what’s the incentive to up your game? Commoditization is an insidious threat to every retail business, pushing in unrelenting fashion towards some combination of real estate gaming and price war as all things become more or less equal. The milquetoast middle is no place to be anymore.

We believe there is an enormous opportunity for food retail to insert moments of engagement into the store and in doing so, create a form of surprise and delight that transforms the emotional connection between the banner and customer.

Yes, training is required but the outcome and strengthening of the retail brand value proposition are well worth the investment. Not only in changing the paradigm of the shopping experience, but to begin creating the kind of work atmosphere that makes it more than a pay check for the employees.

What happened at Starbucks was an outcome of training and mission, which showed up in the passion, enthusiasm and knowledge of the counter associate and what he brought to an otherwise commodity type product.

The choice is here: become a coach, guide and resource, or remain a source of supply.

Looking for more food for thought? Subscribe to our blog.

Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, the healthy living agency. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies.  Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact Bob@Emergent-Comm.com and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

Archives

Categories