IDDBA's Show & Sell Center showcased merchandising innovations with flair at this year's Dairy-Deli-Bake Expo
As they do every year, attendees made a beeline for the Show & Sell Center when the show floor opened at the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association's Seminar and Expo in Atlanta this year.
They were rewarded with a wealth of merchandising ideas to take back to their stores: new spins on familiar products, kid attention-getters, vertical merchandising in small-footprint cases, smaller portions, smaller packages and lots of other ideas.
This year, with today's new value shopper in mind, IDDBA's Show & Sell team trained the spotlight on simple comfort foods with interesting twists, bundled meals, and healthy, super-convenient sandwiches, salads and snacks.
“I see more ideas here this year that could be taken back and formatted right away,” Terry Roberts, founder and president, Design Associates/Merchandising by Design, told SN at the show. “Not so much over-the-top. Easier things to do. There's something for everybody, from the big chain to the smallest independent.”
The center was full of ideas that could be applied to basic fare. For example, rotisserie chickens were split open and filled with appealing-looking stuffings. Simple, inexpensive ham and cabbage were highlighted on an attractive platter.
With a nod to the host city of Atlanta, a display case called “Southern Comfort” made room for Southern eats such as greens and black-eyed peas, pulled pork, fried catfish, and fried and stewed okra.
A whole section displaying pasta was dubbed “Noodelicious.” There, comfort foods like “hammy mac & cheese” and pot pie tetrazzini were featured. But displayed in the same case were 20 other dishes featuring different-shaped pastas, soba noodles and lo mein noodles.
During the recession, pizza has become a top performer for many delis and prepared-food departments, and here several pizza concepts were gathered together in a dedicated service/self-service, 4-foot tiered case.
The bottom, self-service well held two tiers of stacked take-and-bake pizzas in boxes. Above those, in the service part of the case, flat breads with different toppings were stacked tilted up so they were on a slant, showing off their colors.
“I'm impressed with the vertical merchandising in these small footprint cases. It looks good, and the smaller case would save energy,” said John Pazahanick, Roberts' business partner at Design Associates/Merchandising by Design.
Pazahanick added that he liked the way color was used.
“Color on different levels. I like the way it breaks.”
Even members of the volunteer team that sets up and runs the Show & Sell Center take ideas back to implement at their stores.
“I came back to work [after his first year on the S&S meals team] awakened to color schemes, and really re-motivated,” said team member Benny Morales, deli specialist at Affiliated Foods, Amarillo, Texas.
One display case, themed “Repurpose on Purpose,” attracted a lot of attention. Shining with color, it was merchandised with a whole repertoire of layered salads in see-through pastry bags. Hanging across the top of the refrigerated case, the uniquely merchandised salads could be seen from across the room. Just below the salads was a hanging, horizontal row of clear-wrapped sub sandwiches.
Below, in the well of the case, a large number of wedge-shaped sandwich containers held just about everything. A few contained sandwiches, but the eye-catchers held combos like cheese cubes and grapes, vegetable sticks paired with little cups of dip, grape tomatoes and baby spinach, crabmeat salad with a cup of cocktail sauce, mini-cookies and brownie bites, and strawberries with a cup of mascarpone cheese.
As one retailer pointed out, the wedge packages are particularly useful because they can be stacked and at the same time show off more of their contents than a clamshell or other package would.
“That wedge thing is one idea I could put to work as soon as I get back,” said Josie Duennes, foodservice manager at Nature's Bin, a single-unit natural food store in Lakewood, Ohio.
“This is my first time here, and I've seen a lot of ideas I can implement pretty easily. The cookies on a stick are a great idea. Who wouldn't take notice of those?”
Another retailer told SN that some of the displays spurred more ideas in his head — for example, the shrimp and fruit kabobs featured in an appetizer display.
“They're attractive. They made me think, too, that I could skewer five little shrimp and pair them with a small steak or chop. It'd be a mini-version of surf-and-turf,” said Mike Huegel, deli-bakery buyer at Stauffers of Kissel Hill, a Lititz, Pa.-based three-unit independent with a well-honed meals program.
“Meatball kabobs and the cone breads are great ideas, too,” he added. “I saw an all-natural cone. It looked like an ice cream cone minus the sugar, filled with a cheese spread. Another had hummus in it.”
Indeed, Carol Christison, IDDBA executive director, told SN that since last year, when Show & Sell first displayed the bread cone idea, more manufacturers have begun making them.
“They look interesting, but they're also very practical, especially for sandwiches, even salads. They disperse the ingredients better and there's no drip,” Christison said.
Huegel said he saw several ideas in Show & Sell meals and cheese displays that could be implemented back at his stores.
“There's just a lot here. I always take pictures, but I'm glad to get [IDDBA's photo] CD, too. I got a lot of information here at the show. As always, I consider this the premium show.”
Since this year's Dairy-Deli-Bake was in Atlanta, the themes carried through the Show & Sell Center spoke of the South, and Georgia, in particular.
Not surprisingly, peaches played a big role.
In fact, one display was called Peachy Keen. It was situated in a gently curved Barker case, merchandised with low risers so the items were placed almost on the same level, allowing the case's lighting to freely play off the products.
Low-rimmed, white crockery platters in different shapes presented entrees such as cinnamon sirloin chops with peach sauce, grilled chicken with peach and apple salsa, peach-basted chicken satay and peach chutney-glazed vegetable kabobs. Mrs. Smith's peach cobbler had a spot there, too.
In the bakery section, peaches took the cake as well. One decorated cake, pointed out by team member Joni Loxterman, Dawn Food Products, was almost difficult to distinguish from a real crate of ripe peaches. That same case showed off a “Sweet Georgia Brown” dessert cake.
Loxterman went on to show some other intricately decorated cakes.
“This one gets a lot of attention,” she said, pointing to a cake that looked like a delicate hydrangea bloom.
“It's a 5-inch, double-layer round and a drop flower tip used to make those petals,” Loxterman explained.
In that same case were cupcakes made to look like pandas, paired with a small stuffed panda as a gift for kids — same for lions and elephants.
Another bakery case was called “Georgia on My Mind.”
Again, on low risers, the display left a lot of space above the products, creating a clean, clutter-free look. No props, just products. The display included peach upside-down cake, chunky peach dessert pizza and peach torte cake.
Of course, Atlanta may be situated in the heart of peach country, but the city offered several other readily relevant themes as well. It's also the home base of Turner Broadcasting and CNN, and the Show & Sell merchandising teams, in their creative endeavors — which take place all year via emails and phone calls as well as at in-person meetings — drew inspiration from that Atlanta connection as well. For example, a “Cheesertainment Tonight” case featured products including Anderson Cooper grilled cheese, Wolf Blintz-r, and Dr. Sanjay Gouda.
The Show & Sell Center's theme always reflects the city in which the IDDBA expo is held, Christison said. Last year, in New Orleans, themes circled around Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street and Dixieland, and in Orlando, Fla., there are Disney themes.
The point is to remind retailers that they can always get shoppers to stop and look a little longer by giving displays a theme that reflects their own locale, or nearby events. It conveys that the grocer has hometown pride and a connection to the community.
“Carol [Christison] does the research way ahead to look into the history of the particular area we're going to be in,” meals team member Glenda Levsey told SN.
“And she's so good at finding the right things. For instance, in our first meeting this year, we knew we'd need some peach crate labels — the old-fashioned kind — and Carol said she knew where to get them. She pulled them up [on the computer] right away.”
Levsey, who has been a team volunteer for years, uses vacation time off from her company to be at Show & Sell each year.
Show attendees who visited Show & Sell told SN they were seeing a wealth of practical ideas.
Myros Papadopoulos, deli-bakery category manager, Loblaw Cos., Brampton, Ontario, was hard put to pinpoint one or two standouts.
“There are a lot of innovative displays. But I did pay particular attention to some of the appetizers in the deli section.”
Each time during the three days of the show, when SN visited the center, foot traffic there was medium to heavy. Team members said there were lulls, but for the most part, traffic was steady.
Just about everybody who visited the center was taking photographs, but Christison's assistant Anne Terrien also made sure everybody got his or her badge scanned in order to receive IDDBA's CD of Show & Sell Center photos taken by the association's photographer. The CD is sent out a few weeks after the show
“It's because we're so committed to Show & Sell, Teach & Tell that we created the photo CD to send to attendees,” Christison told SN. “We got the idea when we saw how many retailers were taking pictures to send ideas back to their stores. We've since learned that our CD is being used in training programs, customer presentations, store resets and brainstorming sessions.”