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    Engage Customers Through Grilling

    Grocers can leverage America’s favorite patio pastime to boost sales

    By Ryan James Dee, Interactions

    With Memorial Day just behind us and Father’s Day and Independence Day on the horizon, it’s safe to say that grilling season is officially upon us. According to the Arlington, Va.-based Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), 80 percent of consumers own a grill — with 97 percent of those consumers having used it in the past year.

    Whether your customers use gas, charcoal or electric, grilling is a patio pastime and meal-style favorite. In fact, HPBA estimates 63 percent of people enjoy using their grills or smokers year-round, and 11 percent said they even prepared breakfast on their grills in the past year.

    Retailers and brands can use these insights to connect and engage customers by providing them with tips and ideas they can use in their day-to-day lives. Simple in-store demonstrations with sales advisors can help shoppers think “outside the bun,” with creative grilling ideas to enhance their meals.

    Here are some ideas that retailers and brands can offer customers throughout the year:

    Try Fruits and Veggies

     Paired with grilled meats, or grilled for a vegetarian plate, fruits and veggies offer a healthy and flavorful alternative to the usual fare. Encourage shoppers to use mushrooms in place of burgers, or to grill other veggies as a side dish. One piece of advice with fruits: They grill best when they’re firm and barely ripe. And don’t forget dessert! Lightly charred pineapple or peaches topped with ice cream are simple recipes that are sure to be crowd pleasers. As a way to direct shoppers to these unique and healthier options, retailers and brands can set up engaging displays or demonstrations within the store that provide both the ingredients and recipe ideas.

    Spice Up the Flavor

    Shoppers looking to enhance their meats and vegetables can do so by simply adding a delicious marinade or sauce to their meals. Marinades keep food moist and tender on the grill, providing a dish that’s full of flavor. Retailers can share ideas for homemade rubs and marinades with items found in the grocery aisle; think brown sugar, ground coffee, cinnamon and chili powder for ribs. Other alternatives include lemon juice, chopped herbs, olive oil and garlic for chicken. Retailers and brands can display tailored marinade recipes next to these key ingredients to spark customers’ imagination and prompt them to think creatively. Additionally, stores can offer taste samplings for a variety of marinades to help shoppers identify their favorite flavors.

    Beyond BBQ — New Ways to Grill

    There’s a reason that a growing number of consumers are preparing meals on their grills – that’s because barbecue isn’t the only option. Shoppers can use their grill in many other ways. They can steam fish and vegetables in foil packets, lower the lid to grill pizza, or cook a whole chicken over a can of beer or soda. For retailers that sell grills in-store, this provides the perfect opportunity to highlight all of the uses for a grill, whether a customer wants to make a traditional hamburger or a grilled pizza. On a nice day, retailers can demonstrate a handful of recipes by grilling items outside of the store, which will be sure to draw shoppers’ attention.

    Get the Right Accessories

    Help shoppers grill their best meal yet by recommending the right tools and accessories. Besides recipes and creative food options, retailers can help their customers avoid numerous trips to the store for forgotten items by placing accessories at the end of aisles or in high-traffic areas. Think skewers, shish kebabs, basting brushes, metal spatulas, charcoal, grill mitts and thermometers.

    Regardless of the approach, grilling presents numerous opportunities for retailers to connect with shoppers. Customers will love the fresh ideas presented and will appreciate the reminders for a pastime they love year-round.

    By Ryan James Dee, Interactions
    • About Ryan James Dee Ryan James Dee is a senior account executive at San Diego-based Interactions, a global leader in innovative retail solutions and experiential marketing for grocery retailers and brands.

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