Because retailers calculate their
profits by square footage of the store,
they have to be very careful about
how much seating they put in there, as
it has to pay them back.” —Kari Fulton, Alto Shaam
to reduce shrink and spoilage—to counter the
prevailing attitude among many, which all too
often are “selling to the converted.”
The key to food bar success, says Chidley,
is “relying on what is on the bar and how it is
merchandised to create new behavior,” and
placing the bar in a location that assures visi-
bility is important. “Retailers need to think
through who they want to attract, and appeal to
the shopper’s emotions with a communication
idea that influences the shopper to rethink and
re-evaluate their current solutions,” he says.
Chidley believes success can come from a new
understanding of the targeted shopper, which
will help retailers communicate a better value
proposition. For example, he says, shoppers
don’t think of eating a meal by the pound, which
is typically how salad and hot food bars work.
Pricing strategies can indeed be a powerful
tool to help communicate value to shoppers.
Central Market, a banner of San Antonio-based
H-E-B, has a sprawling olive bar with a staggering number of varieties, each labeled with a
detailed description, such as, “Greek Olive Mix:
A blend of Greece’s favorite varietal olives. A
classic crowd pleaser.” The retailer makes this
feature even more appealing with signage that
proclaims “Olive Bar Is One Price” in large letters. This tactic communicates value to the shopper and also saves them the chore of having to
decide which olives meet their ideal price point.
Landis Supermarkets, a five-store retailer
based in Telford, Pa., has taken desirable
pricing a step further by offering a fresh buffet, including Sunday brunch. The buffet has
a modest price of $8.95 for lunch, $11.49 for
dinner and $9.49 for brunch; children ages 3
and under are always able to eat for $4.99. The
retailer also promotes the buffet by offering
10% off for seniors on Wednesdays and kids
night on Tuesdays, in which all children under
the age of 11 can eat for free with the purchase
of an adult buffet. Landis has plans to roll out a
free birthday buffet program in the near future.
According to Chidley, communicating that items
are healthy, fresh or better-for-you is another
great way to draw shoppers in; however, he says
these phrases must be framed emotionally versus rationally. He suggests using phrases such as
“Do your lunch budget a favor” or “Farm-to-table
for lunch” to catch shoppers’ eyes.
Some retailers are already wise to this idea.
For example, Kroger’s Chicago-based Mariano’s stores label soup bars with the callouts
“Hot and Steamy” and “Ladle Up Some Comfort,” and adorns its salad bars with high-visibil-ity “Fresh” signage that urges shoppers to “Pile
It On.” Whole Foods has also made use of this
strategy with a self-service food stand called the
Healthy Eating Bar. In the same vein, Vancouver, Wash.-based Chuck’s Produce advertises
its hot soups as “Healthy and Delicious.”
The Bulk of Design
Bulk bins are another area of the store that has
massive potential to drive sales through visual
cues and signage. A great example of this is
Fresh Thyme Farmers Markets’ reimagined
bulk section. The retailer used shopper-driven
insights to revolutionize its bulk-food bins and
drive traffic to the section.
In partnership with consumer insight company ChangeUp, the retailer found its bulk
department was intimidating and that shoppers
had trouble converting the offerings into meal
occasions. As a solution, Fresh Thyme reorganized the section to be more shopper-friendly.
A point of entry was created by placing a Fresh
Start banner near the bakery, making it natural
for customers to gravitate toward the bulk bins
for breakfast ideas.
The revamped area also strives to highlight
unique offerings and flavor combinations. Similar items are grouped together to help shoppers
understand how various bulk foods can be incorporated into a complete meal, along with suggested use occasions, communicated through
strategically placed graphic elements.
for seniors on
Wednesdays at Landis