The presentation of meal solutions was the most frequent choice of both retailers (26.1%) and manufacturers (38.1%) when they were asked about the services that can best build loyalty in Center Store. The response was followed by loyalty clubs/targeted offers, which were chosen by 24.6% of retailers and 23.8% of manufacturers, and in-store cooking demonstrations/ recipe distribution, which were chosen by 17.4% of retailers and 14.3% of manufacturers.
“Meal solutions resonate with customers,” noted one retailer. “Suggested product tie-ins to build meals and create value are growing.”
Catering to ethnic shoppers is another priority.
About four in five retailers plan to improve their ethnic marketing reach in the coming 12 months. More than half (52.2%) of retailers polled will increase their ethnic product assortment, 29% will participate in community events, 23.2% will add bilingual in-store communications/employees, 13% will launch private-label items and 20.3% don’t plan on enhancing their ethnic marketing reach. Respondents could choose more than one response.
The survey also revealed that although green packaging has become more mainstream, thanks to directives like the one handed down by Wal-Mart, ecologically sound packaging innovations have yet to become a significant source of shelf-level efficiencies.
More than half (53.6%) of the retailers polled by SN said the effect of environmentally friendly packaging is not significant, 33.3% said fairly significant, 7.2% deemed it significant and 2.9% said very significant. “We’re in the beginning stages of environmentally friendly packaging conversions,” said one respondent. “I foresee a larger impact in the next 12 to 18 months.”
The health and wellness trend will also continue to gain momentum.
More than four in 10 retailers (46.4%) said that natural and organic items will be the focus of the top Center Store trend during the next 12 months. Convenience was the second most popular choice (26.1%), followed by sustainability, both environmental and social (10.1%), ethnic flavors (4.3%), low-calorie/low-fat/low-sodium offerings (1.4%) and other (8.7%). Retailer respondents who chose other noted quality, convenience and product-to-packaging ratios that facilitate shelf-level efficiencies.
Manufacturers have different trends in mind. Almost two-fifths of suppliers chose sustainability (38.1%), followed by natural and organic (19%), other (19%), ethnic flavors (9.5%) and convenience (4.8%). Manufacturer respondents who chose other mentioned SKU rationalization, product promotions and the reduction of out-of-stocks.
Supermarkets will also continue to cater to the health and wellness needs of consumers in the coming year.
Nearly half (49.3%) will bolster their health and wellness positioning in the next 12 months with nutrition shelf tags/signage, 44.9% will grow/update their assortment, 36.2% will distribute newsletter/online information, 15.9% will host nutrition and exercise programs, 4.3% will hold in-store lectures, and 15.9% of respondents don’t plan on enhancing their health and wellness positioning. Percentages reflect multiple answers.
Retailers will also improve the accessibility of premium fare by offering it as part of their store-brand lines.
More than half (52%) report plans to add to/update their private-label offerings in the next 12 months with natural/organic, 33.3% with specialty; 23.2% will add an additional tier of products, 21.7% with ethnic, and 14.5% of respondents will make no new additions.