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You’d be hard-pressed to attend a trade show or conference these days that doesn’t address how to more effectively market to Millennials, and this week’s Dairy-Deli-Bake was no exception.
The International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association’s annual three-day seminar and expo wound down Tuesday in Atlanta with a focus on that all-important demographic, insights on differentiation from a Harvard professor, and perspectives from a star professional athlete.
Mark Rudy, VP sales for the Hubert Co., and Jeremy Johnson, the IDDBA’s education director, kicked off Tuesday morning’s general session with the first of two “ED Talks,” theirs taking on “Engaging Shoppers Through Merchandising.”
The most effective merchandising is visual, they asserted, because it turns passive lookers into active buyers. Shopper engagement, within the 3- to 4-foot “engagement zone” around store displays, increases chance of purchase.
Engagement strategies within that zone should include the five elements of merchandising: landscaping, color, texture, communication and décor.
Examples of landscaping: vertical towers of cheese to create visual interest, charcuterie stacks, different-shaped sandwiches arranged in a deli case.
Color should leverage that inherent trait in distinctive products, allowing brightly colored items like fresh produce or decorated bakery items speak for themselves.
Textures should help tie products in with their surroundings, with such materials as chunky industrial-looking wood and metal, hammered metals, slate or chipped stone.
Communication should feature information about the food, perhaps written by hand on butcher paper with chalk or markers for a distinctive flair.
Décor can be as simple as a row of greenery to visually separate products, or leveraging fixtures as décor elements.
Next up, Alan Hiebert, IDDBA senior education coordinator, and chef Chris Koch, executive chef of Cooking or Whatever (at the helm of the Show & Sell Center’s Culinary Concierge pavilion during the expo), tackled “Engaging Millennials Through Meals.”
Based on a recent survey of Millennials from various family and financial backgrounds, Hiebert and Koch said Millennial engagement must contain inspiration and knowledge; honesty and authenticity; planning; freshness; and technology.
Millennials are looking to supermarkets for inspiration, and “the voice they want to hear is the chef,” Hiebert said – they want to talk directly with those making their food.
Protein is a top priority for Millennials, which presents an opportunity for engagement through new and different flavors in protein-laden food items.
Regarding honesty, those surveyed said they want to see calories, seasonal labels, preparation description and origin information on menus.
Millennials are less likely than Baby Boomers to plan ahead for their meals, and are less likely to make shopping lists. But they are willing to pay for food that reflects home cooking because they don’t have time to make it themselves. Millennials visit more different retailers than Boomers and like cooking with ready-to-assemble meal components.
Freshness is most important to Millennials, but they have a perception that prepared foods are not as fresh as they could be; even healthy options are less appealing if they’ve been sitting out all day.
Those surveyed are less likely to order prepared foods online. Hiebert and Koch recommended retailers differentiate by providing professional chef services like the Culinary Concierge, offering preordered complete weekly heat-and-eat meals ready to pick up, with additional complementary components available as an opportunity to grow baskets.