VISUALS PLAY MANY ROLES IN THE SUPERMARKET environment. They can guide customers as they navigate aisles and displays. They can be promotional in nature and tout a particular product's benefits.
Natural and organic products often need extra help -- particularly in mainstream supermarkets. In larger stores that have traditionally focused on conventional items, using color and unique shapes to offset health and wellness items can assist customers in adjusting their shopping patterns and focusing on these new options.
At one Albertsons unit in Irvine, Calif., signage is a serious matter for the natural and organic items merchandised across all departments of the store. Category markers use color and eye-level positioning to draw customers' attention to them.
The store, located in thriving Orange County, takes a different approach to merchandising the health and wellness categories. Under this format, natural and organics are clustered in a specialty aisle, set off by shelf signs and tags highlighting their individual presence in the overall display.
The backbone of the strategy is positioned first in the dry grocery shopping pattern, adjacent to the produce department. The first 37 feet of multi-deck gondolas offers natural and organic items segmented into categories on both sides of the aisle. The categories are visually offset by blue banners heralding "Natural Cereal," "Soy Milk," "Natural Juices" and more.
The aisle begins on the right with a 4-foot set of waters, followed by 12 feet of cereals. Eight feet of both shelf-stable soy and rice milk, plus juices, precedes 4 feet of teas.
Across the aisle, an 8-foot bulk section sports 14 gravity-fed bins and 36 scoop bins filled with snacks, granola and candy. Prepackaged trail mix and dried fruit occupy a 4-foot set alongside 12 feet of salty snacks. Soups, in cans and aseptic boxes, along with instant items in cups, are contained in a 4-foot set. Sauces, dried pastas and packaged side dishes, such as organic macaroni and cheese and rice-based mixes, sit within an 8-foot section.
An international foods presentation follows the natural and organic offerings. Here, Italian, Tex/Mex, kosher and Asian ingredients run more than 40 feet toward the back of the store. A shelf cap graphically presents the names of various world-class cities to create a boutique-like atmosphere.
Additional international items spill over into the next aisle. A half aisle of specialty imported goods is mirrored with more natural items, which take up the rest of the space. Paper goods, health and beauty items, baby food, diapers, baking mixes, rice cakes, cookies, crackers and energy bars are all part of the mix. A small set of organic vitamins and supplements is also found within the footprint.
At this store, select categories are merchandised in the traditional aisles, and are not found in the natural and organic aisles. For example, Muir Glen and Bella Terra canned tomatoes are shelved in the traditional aisle set and not in the natural and organic area. Vitamins and supplements are found within the traditional health and beauty aid section, but not the same brands as within the natural and organic area.
In the produce department, organic selections are prepackaged. This strategy helps reduce the chance of commingling organic and conventional produce. It also enables the retailer to employ on-pack labels that highlight the organic aspect of the selections available that day.
Within the meat department, signs drive natural and organic shoppers to the coffin case endcap where beef, chicken and fish selections are presented prepackaged. In frozens, aisle labels draw attention to the four doors of offerings, sandwiched between a set of Asian products and an international grouping of primarily kosher products.