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    Stack the Meat Case With Value and Simplicity

    Grocers can combat high prices with shopper solutions

    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ

    Variety, value and education – those in the know say these factors are going to be among the most influential for grocers looking to boost their meat case’s role as a profit center.

    As the price of meat continues to stabilize following the elevated levels of the past several years due to drought, high feed prices and culled herds, consumers not otherwise experimenting with alternative proteins will find values from grocers savvy enough to deliver mealtime solutions. Strategic partnerships with meat suppliers will help retailers bring customers the greatest value.

    “As an industry, one of the techniques employed is a ‘good, better, best’ pricing model at the meat case,” says Kent Harrison, VP of marketing and premium programs at Dakota Dunes, S.D.-based Tyson Fresh Meats.

    For example, Harrison explains, a retailer might offer thinner-cut pork chops at the meat case at an attractive price, as well as thicker-cut chops right next to them, encouraging consumers to trade up to a higher quality product.

    “Retailers must make sure to stock their case with a variety of choices, to give consumers the option of moving up to the next tier of quality, which will also be an opportunity for the retailer to gain higher total dollar sales,” he says. “Some retailers may use a dual price strategy, with a product offering that might be better than a competing product, and then a best or premium brand in the same protein category at a more limited SKU set. Price-per-pound gaps between the two tiers should remain consistent at all times regardless of turn or feature business. This can sometimes be easily applied by having the best product in the full-service meat case.”

    Patrick Fleming, director of market intelligence and innovation for the Des Moines, Iowa-based National Pork Board, concurs.

    Highlight Variety

    “Our research shows that consumers need to feel like there is enough of a variety in the case, and consumers relate variety in the meat case with the number of packages available, not the number of SKUs,” Fleming says. “Retailers should be stocking at least four packages of each item on display, especially during holidays and seasonal times, when meat department traffic is highest.

    Our research also shows that the key to increase pork sales is to get on consumers’ shopping list. Increased frequency of promotion is just as important as the depth of the promotion. Most of the time, we can get pork into consumers shopping carts just by reminding them.”

    Sean Brady, senior marketing manager for Charlotte, N.C.-based Sealed Air Corp., asserts that value can be expressed or perceived by customers in many different ways. “We know that actual price can have an effect, but more consumers are also looking at other factors: appearance (buying with their eyes) and benefits (like shelf life, easy-open, no mess, no leaking packages, etc.),” Brady says. 

    By Jim Dudlicek, EnsembleIQ
    • About Jim Dudlicek As editorial director of Progressive Grocer, Jim Dudlicek oversees daily operations of the magazine, spearheads its signature features, produces PG’s monthly Trend Alert newsletter on center store issues, moderates its regular webcast series, and writes and comments about a wide range of grocery issues. A food industry journalist since 2002, Jim came to PG in June 2010 after covering the dairy industry for 7½ years, during which time he served as chief editor of Dairy Field and Dairy Foods magazines. A graduate of Marquette University, Jim is fascinated by how truly progressive grocers inspire consumers to enjoy food, transforming the industry from mere merchants into educators that can take the most basic of all necessities and turn it into something profound and life-enhancing. Follow him at www.twitter.com/JimDudlicek

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