COPPELL, Texas -- Minyard Food Stores has launched a marketing campaign to tell customers about all the ways it can help them put a meal on the table.
At three of its stores, the chain has developed meals departments centered around each store's kitchen, which fall under the direction of the chain's deli director. At the centers, fare is offered in three different degrees of preparation -- ready-to-cook, ready-to-heat, and ready-to-eat.
"We got into home-meal replacement about a year ago," said Charles Burns, senior vice president, marketing, for the 84-unit chain based here. "We've put together a menu of good products and now that we've got it going, we want to explain to more of our customers what we can do to help them with meals."
The consumer is guided through the department by color codes designed to inform them quickly whether a food item is ready to cook, ready to heat or ready to eat. Print materials also play an important role throughout the center. The literature offers advice and makes suggestions on assembling meals based on the amount of time the shopper has to prepare the food.
The overall theme of the marketing and educational materials is "What's to Eat? We Make Meals Easy."
"We felt we could tie them all together under that one theme," said Burns. "Our aim right now is just to let customers know how we can help them with meals or meal preparation."
The campaign's kickoff early this month involved draping huge banners over store entrances, offering handout fliers and utilizing bag-stuffers and full-page pullouts in the weekly circular at the three stores that have meals centers.
The pullouts introduce experienced store associates as "kitchen coaches," with their photographs.
"We want to encourage our customers to seek out the kitchen coaches to get any of their meals questions answered and also to offer suggestions about what would help them," said Burns.
The tan vinyl banners draped over the stores' entrances, measure 12 feet long, and send their message with huge lettering printed in green. A square logo at one end of the banner says "What's to Eat!" Then, across the banner, the letters proclaim, "The Meal Center. For Quick and Easy Meal Planning." In smaller letters, it says, "Remember...at Minyard, we make meals easy!"
Handout fliers offered in a rack just inside the store's entrance describe the color coding system used for freshly prepared and partially prepared products. The flyer shows the colors and then tells customers what they mean. For instance, alongside a purple square with white lettering that says "ready to heat," there is this explanation: "Ready to heat indicates microwave-ready foods that can be reheated in five minutes or less." Examples listed are meatloaf, rotisserie meats, chicken pot pie and twice baked potatoes.
Beside an orange square with white lettering that says "ready to cook," there is this: "Ready to cook indicates oven- or microwave-ready foods that can be cooked in 30 minutes or less. Examples listed are stuffed pork chops, marinated salmon, herbed squash medley and green beans with almonds.
A green square has this message printed in white, "Ready to Eat!" and the flyer points out the color code indicates fully prepared items that need no heating such as gourmet tossed salads and assorted desserts.
A 35-inch by 45-inch window sign at the front of the store also offers that information as does a section of the meals pullout in the ad circular.
The pullout in the store's circular also touts a meal of the week that includes both ready-to-cook and ready-to-heat items. The first week's meal of the week was lemon garlic chicken breast, rosemary potatoes, and almond green beans. The average price per person was shown as $3.39.
The chicken was marinated and ready for cooking, while the potatoes were partially cooked and ready to be reheated.