IDDBA's Show & Sell Center each year serves up new, exciting merchandising ideas, and this time, planners outdid themselves
Tall sliders, tall muffins, towering stacks of cheese rounds. Displays took an obvious Texas twist at the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association's Show & Sell Center during its convention in Houston this year, but the creativity stood out in its simplicity, too.
In fact, retailers told SN they were surprised at how many ideas they could take back home and apply quickly and easily — and, most important, inexpensively.
Becky Paine, Kmart Supercenters, Hoffman Estates, Ill., was looking for ideas for displays in front on her service deli cases. One low-profile display, she said, that caught her eye incorporated see-through plastic frosting bags filled with bread toppings, hanging above a display of long loaves of Italian bread lying flat on a low riser.
“That would work at the deli case,” Paine said.
The toppings, colorful in their pastry bags, included garlic, asiago cheese, chopped jalapenos, herbs and cinnamon sugar, among others.
Another retailer, Patti Rispoli, deli supervisor for Super Foodtown stores, owned by Food Circus, Middletown, N.J., took particular note of that display as well. Rispoli, who is also specialty cheese buyer and merchandiser for the 10-unit independent, told SN she'd been looking for spreads to increase sales of bread and rolls, and she said those bagged toppings would be a plus.
IDDBA Executive Director Carol Christison told SN that retailer after retailer commented on that particular display. “They talked about how inexpensive it would be to execute, and also about the convenience for the customer. Just grab a couple of loaves, a bag of topping, throw it under the broiler, and you're a star.”
Rispoli also pointed to a standout display of different salamis, infused with pinot grigio, rose and other wines, and wrapped in what looked like heavy, colorful parchment paper with raffia ribbon around their middles. The parchment paper wrapping on one was a dark rose color, and a dusky blue on another. They looked like little gifts.
“Those would look good in my specialty cheese displays. Something different to attract attention,” Rispoli said.
The deli meat case was a standout this year with “bunchables” and “naked 'wiches.”
Chef Jon Gazin, Team Canada, and Isabel Fischer, Coborn's, St. Cloud, Minn., members of the Show & Sell Center planning and merchandising team, enthusiastically explained more about the bunchables and the “bunched” meats.
“The big thing is there are no carbs,” Gazin said. “We're showing people how they can serve deli meats attractively and conveniently without making sandwiches or even thinking about sandwiches.”
He and Fischer talked about how the bunched meats, some held together with what looked like tiny lassos and others clipped together with colorful clothespins, could be displayed on a tray with vegetables but no hint of bread or other carbs.
The two team members explained that little bunches of thinly sliced deli meats, with the help of a clothespin clip, or other cincher, can be easily shaped into roses, butterflies, fans and other creations. They can be used as garnishes in the meat case or in larger numbers for a party platter.
Tempting-looking hard rolls and baguettes, however, were displayed on the shelf below, to make it easy for customers who were thinking “sandwich.” And there were sliders. How could there not be still-trendy sliders? Indeed, these were Texas-style sliders, on tiny rolls, but rising high in the air to accommodate all kinds of meat, cheese, pickles, probably Texas caviar and other accoutrements stacked on top of one another. Definitely Texas tall.
The Show & Sell Center's theme always reflects the city or state in which the IDDBA expo is held. Last year, in Atlanta themes circled around peaches and CNN, which has its headquarters there. The year before that, in New Orleans, themes reflected Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street and Dixieland.
The point is to remind retailers that they can get shoppers to stop and look a little longer by making displays reflect their own locale or local events. It conveys that the grocer has hometown pride and a connection to the community, merchandising team members said.
Christison said that the team of retailers, suppliers, distributors and consultants that puts the Show & Sell, Teach & Tell Center together each year arrives days ahead of the show to set everything up. That means bringing in refrigeration lines and electrical lines.
The team members meet and email each other with ideas, and they get together with Hubert Co. early to talk about what props and risers they'll need. Creative ideas buzz back and forth for months.
For example, one whole case set this year featured hot dogs and was aimed at kids. Some hot dogs were cut in half, ends cut off, with cheese sticks at the ends, to make them look like fire crackers. Others were cut in half, with the rounded ends cut off, then little sticks of spaghetti were stuck in the ends, then they were boiled. The result: startling.
Christison said she didn't know exactly what they represented, maybe something from another planet, but certainly something that would catch the eye of a 10-year-old.
“We had a lot of fun with dogs in blankets, too. That was all in the Haute Dog Cuisine section,” she said, as she praised her merchandising team members for their unending creativity.
“I'm continuously amazed, just blown away, by how they come up with new and innovative things every single year,” Christison said. “They keep setting the bar higher and higher.”
Christison injects her ideas, and sense of humor, too.
SN noticed a “wedding cake” made of lunch meat in the deli meat case. The inside was bread and condiments, but on the outside, the “cake” showed off three tiers of salami ruffles.
“That was Carol's idea,” Chef Gazin said. He pointed out that Christison travels extensively during the year and often brings back ideas she saw at work in Europe.
A muffin display with a huge selection of enticing toppings was something else Christison had seen during her travels and decided to incorporate it in the Show & Sell Center.
“I saw that in Europe where they pulled out all the stops, and we did, too.”
It made for a compelling display — one you couldn't walk by without trying to identify what all that colorful stuff was mounded on top of muffins.
The “Muffin Magic” section of IDDBA's free Show & Sell take-away guide suggests, “Anything you can do to a cupcake, you cando to a muffin!”
It lists these “muffin-friendly” toppers: mascarpone, dried fruit, creme fraiche, dark chocolate, sweetened cream cheese, sugared nuts and crystallized ginger.
Bowing to requests from attendees a few years ago, IDDBA began offering the Show & Sell guide to enable attendees to put into play more easily what they have seen at the center. In addition to listing all the sponsors and the products they supplied, the guide offers actual floor layouts, showing how the display cases were configured, and which ones showed off which products. Even the model numbers of the cases are offered. In addition, the guide gives detailed instructions on how to create some of the displays.
A CD with photos, close-ups and defining shots, taken of the Show & Sell Center by IDDBA's photographer, is also made available to visitors to the center.