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How do you keep consumers in your store?
Convince them you’re concerned for their well-being as well as their needs as a grocery shopper.
These were among the themes explored during the opening day of the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association’s annual expo, held June 5-7 in Houston.
“Industry best practices are constantly being redefined,” said IDDBA Chairman John Cheesman in his opening address Sunday morning, outlining how the group and its members are commitment to “working together to be the leading innovative source” for deli, bakery and prepared food retailing.
A big part of that is delivering solutions consumers want, as discussed by Sherry Frey of Nielsen Perishables in “Merchandising, Marketing and Innovating for Entertaining Occasions,” in which she noted strategic cross-store connections for special occasion shopping.
“If we don’t have total store connectivity, we’re setting ourselves up for long-term failure,” Frey asserted.
Frey laid out “a new road map for looking at categories.” For example: for “fresh and fancy entertaining,” key categories like steak, deli snacks and specialty cheeses are natural tie-ins for fruit and vegetables, herbs and seafood.
Consumers wants “convenient solutions for turn-key entertaining,” Frey said, noting that deli is a key driver for such purchases. “Digital is really critical” to the equation because it touches consumers along the path to purchase beyond the store with recipes and pairing suggestions, she said, and it’s a “big equalizer in the store” in helping smaller companies connect with shoppers.
Transparency is Key
Retailers also need to strengthen the trust consumers have in them regarding food safety, as outlined by “Supermarket Guru” Phil Lempert in his “Focus on Allergens,” the latest installment of IDDBA’s ongoing food safety initiative.
“If we’re going to continue to build trust with shoppers, we need to be more transparent,” Lempert said, citing survey data indicating that only 15 percent of consumers have confidence in free-from product label statements. Further, 85 percent of shoppers think companies don’t care about their dietary needs.
“We need to change and build confidence with these shoppers,” Lempert added, noting that only 5 percent “strongly agree” that they’re satisfied with the answers they’re getting from store associates about allergens.
Further statistics show a strong need for store associates to be better trained to handle products and be better educated about allergens in food products: food allergies among children rose 18 percent between 1997 and 2007, four in 10 claim food allergies or avoidance of certain ingredients, and the number of people with allergies is doubling every 10 years.
“This is not a fad, it’s not a trend,” Lempert said. “It’s a reality.”
Cheesman called out some strengths of the IDDBA and the industry: membership in the 53-year-old organization rose 13 percent over the past five years, despite industry consolidation; the biggest gains have come in bakery, with no category decreases; distribution/importing/exporting has shown the strongest category market growth.
With record attendance expected for this year’s expo, Cheesman announced the locations of the next four events: Anaheim, Calif., in 2017; New Orleans in 2018, Orlando, Fla.; in 2019; and, in a return to the Midwest, Indianapolis in 2020. Cheesman noted that the group is looking into East Coast locations for the years beyond.
Cheesman closed out his remarks by presenting the 2016 IDDBA Chairman’s Award to Doug Wittich for his years of dedicated service to the bakery industry, as a pioneer of frozen bakery products, and his leadership at George Weston Ltd. and Maplehurst Bakeries.
Rounding out the morning sessions were Lori Greiner, inventor, entrepreneur and member of TV’s “Shark Tank”; and comedian Jerry Seinfeld, whose hour-long standup set brought down the house.