Can meal kits and pre-made meals help drive shoppers back to stores?
New specialized meal kit companies are popping up to the tune of over $5 billion to date. We’re seeing a few early adapter mega and specialty retailers jump into the meal kit market, including H-E-B/Central Market, Tesco, Kroger, Publix, and Wegmans, among others.
The holiday season is the perfect time to roll out new (or expanded) meal kits in your market. Customers will be making extra shopping trips November through January to shop for holiday dinners and parties. When compared to on-line, supermarket meal kits offer consumers the advantage of less wasteful packaging, they can see or taste the product, and it costs less without added shipping fees. Plus shoppers can pick up milk, wine, or pet food while they're shopping for dinner.
We see a trend that brick & mortar will become more of a meal kit destination for busy millennials. Some industry experts predict that pre-ordered meals prepared and packaged within a 1-2 hour timeframe will become the norm over on-line kits as expensive shipping and wasteful packaging backlash grows.
Leveraging web to bring in more shoppers
Meal kit menus, cooking demos, and sampling can be advertised on social sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter in addition to your store's website. Promote your holiday meal tasting party via Facebook and get your shoppers excited to come in a sample your holiday meals and catering menu.
Host a holiday sampling party! We love the 'A Taste of Thanksgiving at Whole Foods Market' Facebook event invite with a photo of hard-to-resist holiday side dishes and the eye-catching but simple Thanksgiving meal sampling invite from Belcampo MeatCo. Be sure to leverage the web to promote in-store meal kit sampling events by offering in-store deals such as free milk of $2 off wine or dessert with a 2-meal purchase. Did you know that 75% of consumer purchase decisions occur in store? *
EcoTensil customer HEB is already selling Meal Kits on-line while offering in-store cooking kiosks with sampling and on-line cooking videos for shoppers wanting step-by-step instructions on how to prepare what they sampled in-store.
Engaging in-store shoppers
Positioning a friendly server to hand out samples and engage with the shopper is another way to create feel-good experiences to keep your customers coming back. The server can answer questions about the meal kit, ingredients, prep time, and also help move the shopper to purchase a kit. It’s also an opportunity to offer the customer in-store deals or special offers, such as buy 3 and get 4th free.
“H-E-B’s generous in-store food and wine demos are a powerful lure to shoppers and yet another example of a program that the retailer has taken pains to own rather than farm out to third parties. By running its own demo kitchens, H-E-B can change promotions on a dime and accelerate sales for various items as needed. Its demo program is also an effective way to introduce new items and generate instant awareness.”
- Carol Spieckerman, President of Spieckerman Retail
Supporting Local Farmers & Vendors
Customers just feel better about supporting their local farmers and merchants vs. purchasing a mail-order kit from far away. Local stores are a natural to promote local offerings and seasonal flavors. In-store meal kits can highlight locally sourced ingredients from farms and help introduce new offerings and seasonal varieties within your produce or meat department.
Excessive and wasteful shipping packaging is one of the top five reasons for cancelled subscriptions of meal kit delivery. Offering in-store meal kits for purchase eliminates the excess packing issue and can make the customer feel better about choosing a local option that involves less packaging and carbon footprint.
Indulging in Impulse Purchases
Lastly, offering in-store meal kits or ready-made meals with sampling allow for more impulsive dinner options for shoppers. How many times have we run into the market for milk and left with piping hot mac-and-cheese? Hunger is always the best spice and hot samples of holiday dinners can entice your customers to try a dinner kit. Provide special coupons and in-store specials on salads, side dishes, wine, and dessert for more impulse buying.
"It really comes down to making shoppers happy. When shoppers walk the perimeter of the store and get to try new products, talk to store associates, learn new cooking techniques, shopping becomes fun. Having fun makes customers happy, and happy customers tend to buy more. “
- Graeme McVie, VP of Business DevelopmentPrecima (division of LoyaltyOne)
In the meantime, don’t forget to sample, sample, sample and remember this simple equation:
Hungry shopper + in-store samples = $$
** Sampling In-Store, Direct 2 Consumer (D2C) In-Store Promotions