"I'd better have the best meat department in town, or I'm not going to get the customers." -- John Story, Holiday Cos.
Can it be true? Is the much-besmirched supermarket meat department as important as all that?
Many retailers would probably say the opinion above is overdrawn, and that meat departments simply don't have the drawing power they did a generation ago. But listen to customers for a moment; they know otherwise, and said as much in a revealing national opinion survey of 1,000 shoppers commissioned by Supermarket News. You'll find results premiering on Page 39 -- results which inspired the comment above. As might be expected, the survey found an answer to the most important baseline question of all: How important is a meat department to consumers, and would they miss the department if it were gone? Here's the surprise: Some 74% of customers polled said the meat department is "very important," 22% said it is "somewhat important," while a slim 4% declared it to be "not important." Incidentally, the survey also found that just 1% of respondents were vegetarians.
In sum, then, virtually all supermarket shoppers attach a significant degree of importance to a store's meat department, giving lie to the outlook that the department might be destined for fadeout. The survey imparts ample additional evidence of the importance customers affix to meat departments. For instance, nearly half those asked said that if they had a negative experience with fresh meat, seafood or dairy they would go to another supermarket next time to buy such product. Looking at the other side of the equation, the survey also shows where opportunity is to be found, and one of the first places to look is to value-added prepared meat and seafood products. Nearly half the survey's respondents said they never purchase prepared product. The balance buy such product somewhere in the "most" to "all" range.
And, as might be expected, the survey showed that seafood departments have a distance to go in their development. Here's confirmation of that: Just 1% of respondents buy seafood in a supermarket more than once a week; 41% just once a month, and 13% never do.
Take a look at this important consumer survey. You may change your mind a little about the importance of meat and seafood, and discover new directions in which these departments should be pointed for the future.