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    EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the Future

    What will tomorrow’s dairy section look like? Thanks to the combined efforts of Dairy Management, Inc., the Dannon Co. and Kraft Foods, grocers have the chance to find out.

    What will tomorrow’s dairy section look like? Thanks to the combined efforts of Dairy Management, Inc., the Dannon Co. and Kraft Foods, grocers have the chance to find out. The research conducted by these entities and funded by dairy farmers gave rise to the Dairy Department of the Future exhibit at the National Grocers Association’s 2010 Annual Convention and Supermarket Synergy Showcase this month.

    What the research uncovered is that the dairy section can boost loyalty, sales and profits, if it’s reinvented according to “shopper-centric” design principles, which just goes to show: No matter how advanced the technology or design concepts become, it’s still, at base, all about serving the customer.

    Also looking resolutely forward are Coca-Cola and Procter & Gamble, two powerhouse CPG companies who are putting their considerable weight behind the juggernaut of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games with exciting promotions featuring digital components that enable consumers and even athletes to engage with the companies’ ubiquitous brands like never before.

    Household products manufacturer Sun Products is likewise thinking ahead by investing in a brand-new North American Technology Center that will not only house laboratories and package design facilities, but also offer space to interact with consumers and find out their thoughts on items before they go on the market. The overall cleaning products category has apparently felt the need for an image update, as evidenced by the news that its trade organization, the Soap and Detergent Association, would become the American Cleaning Institute this June, a transition accompanied by the launch of a redesigned Web site.

    Even those initiatives that seem at first glance fairly traditional betray some novel aspects. A&P gourmet banner The Food Emporium is continuing to embrace the world of specialty foods, but has now entered new culinary territory with its first-ever “Taste of France” food promotion, reminding its upscale target shoppers that the banner truly is a global marketplace for the finest edibles. And Peter Pan peanut butter’s bid to help fight child hunger by encouraging old-school PB sandwich lunches on Wednesdays has expanded its reach via the Web.

    What all of these examples illustrate for us is that in center store — as throughout the entire store — progress wedded to a traditional focus on customer needs and preferences is the most successful way to go, now and in years to come.

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