Merchandising to the max

From Mondelēz International Foodservice.

The operators who get the most sales lift from merchandising often have one common denominator: they use category management principles to give people what they want when they want it. So how can you incorporate these principles into your own merchandising strategy?

The first step to successful merchandising is to know your customers. Analyze them in terms of age, gender and income. Anticipate their desires — whether for a quick, tasty bite; a refreshing beverage to bring back to the office; a dessert that provides a moment of indulgence in a busy day or a convenient food item to take home for dinner.

Next, look over your merchandise mix. Determine if your items are in step with the above desires as well as any prevailing trends that may apply to your operation, such as snacking and sharing, health and wellness, local foods and global flavors. If you identify any gaps in your lineup, fill them with products that are a good fit for your operation.

Also, when choosing packaged products, be mindful of brand power. It is more advantageous to feature market-leading brands with household names than it is to introduce unfamiliar or little-known products. When you offer long-established brands that consumers know and love, years of happy experiences work in your favor.

If you can use some help in sizing up your clientele and grooming your product mix, it is wise to partner with a supplier who is willing to share research on consumer behavior and product trends in the marketplace.

The next vital task is making it easy for customers to get your products. Remember that convenience is a powerful purchase driver. For example, if you operate a busy cafeteria or dining room, install a grab-and-go area with prepackaged sandwiches, snacks, desserts and bottled beverages for customers to grab if they are too busy for a sit-down meal.

Encouraging impulse buying is also a big plus. Supermarkets long ago discovered how to boost sales by placing periodicals, candy and beverages within arm’s reach in the checkout lane. Foodservice operators can do the same with an attractive display rack of snacks, cookies and crackers at the cashier counter.

Additionally, point-of-sale materials such as signs, posters, print menus, menu boards, flyers and banners attract attention and get your message across.

For a powerful take on traditional merchandising efforts, try implementing demonstrations and sampling, which have direct sensory appeal for consumers. Have your chef provide a demonstration in the dining room with all the sizzle and aroma of live cooking plus free tastings. Pass out samples of packaged snacks and desserts to customers. These are appealing, risk-free ways for people to try something new, and they’re proven paths to higher sales.

Above all, make sure your merchandising strategy is planned and organized. Set sales goals and track the results. Ask customers for feedback about your products and follow their cues. Cull the slow-sellers from your merchandise mix and replace them with fresh, appealing products.

If all of this seems challenging, remember that you don’t have to go it alone. Team up with a supplier that has category management expertise, consumer research and market-leading brands. Such an alliance can give you a huge boost in connecting with your customers.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

When looking for a way to get more use out of its Canyon Cafe, open during the weekends only, California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Calif., tried something new: free cooking classes.

Classes are open to students, as well as faculty and staff, and are taught by Campus Dining Executive Chef Michael Albright, according to Mustang News .

The weekday classes, which are capped at 14 participants, have taught attendees how to make items such as probiotic overnight oats and “the perfect turkey.” Interested parties can sign up online via the school’s dining...

Managing Your Business
chef online sourcing

More than 40% of restaurants buy supplies from online sources such as Amazon at least once per month, reducing their reliance on distributors, according to new research from Technomic.

The bulk of the online shopping—what Technomic calls third-party e-sourcing, or 3ES—is for nonperishable foods and other supplies that can’t spoil, such as disposables. "Today, operators are most inclined to purchase products in the nonfoods and shelf space but are reluctant to source frozen and perishables from 3ES,” said Joe Pawlak, managing principal of Technomic. “However, they can envision a...

Industry News & Opinion

Anchorage School District in Anchorage, Alaska, is offering free meals to students this week while schools are closed due to the recent earthquake, KTVA reports.

The meals are being served at nine schools throughout the district between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and are available to anyone 18 and under. The district has provided school buses at each location to allow students to eat inside.

Read the full story via ktva.com .

Industry News & Opinion

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has announced its final rule on school meal standards .

The final rule builds upon the USDA's changes to school meal standards announced last year . It will keep the sodium Target 1 limits in place through school year 2023-2024, and Target 2 limits will go into effect for the 2024-2025 school year. The final sodium target (Target 3) will be eliminated.

While operators have been able to meet sodium Target 1 limits, many felt that the second two would be difficult to acheive. Over 90% of respondents in a School Nutrition...

FSD Resources