Drive Sales with Meal Planning Inspiration
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
After a long winter of staying indoors and preparing endless meals, consumers are looking forward to not only a new season, but some fresh meal inspiration. In a new report on post-pandemic dining expectations, Deloitte noted that 42% of consumers said they expect to cook more after the pandemic than they had before and about 3 in 10 (29%) plan to buy more fresh food. With so many consumers planning meals at home, this is a perfect time to help your stores promote warm weather recipes and meal planning tips that focus on seasonal foods, healthful ingredients and outdoor cooking. Here are some considerations for providing meal solutions that create shopper excitement while increasing basket size and sales.
- It’s all about the meal.
Consumers shop with their mind on meals, not departments. Thoughtful meal-planning ideas are needed to help shoppers get easy, affordable and healthful meals in their carts and on the table.
- Highlight fresh and fresh prepared.
Increasing sales for fresh and prepared foods will require retailers to make it easy for shoppers to find and purchase the items they need for the meals they want to prepare. Think beyond providing a recipe card to meal merchandising displays in store. Show customers how to build balanced meals with fresh and prepared components or highlight new ways to create meals with popular prepared products like rotisserie chickens or bagged salad greens.
- Create a cart-stopping experience.
Since the pandemic started, shoppers tend to make shorter, more-focused trips to the store. To get them to notice meal-building ideas consider signage in key departments highlighting all components of a meal, or create a recipe display with all the ingredients. For example, prepared beef and chicken kabobs could be set up in a refrigerated meat case while side shelves could hold shelf-stable meal accompaniments like instant wild rice, muffin mixes and seasoning. Don’t forget an eye-catching sign directing shoppers to the case.
- Take it online.
Does your online shopping experience provide the needed solutions consumers need to help plan meals? For consumers looking for help with dinner tonight, or breakfast options for the week ahead, consider having a “menu” of quick meal assembly ideas or a pantry stocking list for grab-and-go breakfast ideas online. A week’s worth of fresh in-season produce for snacking and quick suggestions for side dishes would also be welcome. Ensure that any meal suggestions have a link to add the items directly to online shopping carts.
- Go beyond the food.
Consumers looking forward to outdoor meals, grilling and small get togethers. Offer recipes and menu suggestions but also remember to promote those tools and products that make outdoor cooking easier - kebab skewers, grilling tools, marinating sauces, plastic plates and cups, table covers, and more. Think holistically about the meal experience to help your shoppers make mealtime easy while increasing incremental sales.