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Six things we learned at Grocery Innovations Canada

Thursday, October 01, 2015 > 12:04:38
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(Canadian Grocer)

Key takeaways and tips from the grocery show's conference

Industry professionals came together at the Toronto Congress Centre on Monday and Tuesday for the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers’ annual Grocery Innovations Canada.


The speakers from the conference and workshop portion of the two-day event touched on everything from future trends, to loss prevention, to growing basket size.

Here are a few takeways:

You have to be good to be great

John Herdman, head coach of the Canadian Women’s National Soccer Team, spoke to a crowded room of attendees about his coaching experiences and how he leads his team to victory. “Just be good,” Herdman said, emphasizing that if you can be consistently good, greatness is more likely to follow.

As a coach, he said, your responsibility is to light a fire under the people you lead. That means keeping cool under pressure and accepting that you’re a piece in a larger puzzle.

Frank Coleman, president and CEO of Coleman Group of Companies, emphasized this point in a session later on, saying it’s important to hire people for your business in the image of how you want it to be lead.

Small snacks make for big baskets

Nearly two-thirds of grocery shoppers don’t walk down the snacks aisle. But 52% who do, buy something. That’s a higher conversion than the average (34%) for centre store aisle, said Mondelez director of customer and shopper insight, Robert Kolatschek. His point: snack foods represent a huge opportunity to grow basket size.

Core snacks grew 3.3% in dollars in Canada last year, compared to 2% for all CPG.

“Snacking is how people eat today. Fifty per cent of all eating occasions are snacks,” Kolatschek said during his presentation on the category.

But snacks are often unplanned purchases. Therefore, the trick is to make sure customers run across them during the shopping trip.

For instance, Kolatschek said, cross-merchandise milk with cookies, chocolate in the floral department or hang a clip strip of gum in the coffee aisle (a subtle reminder that no one likes coffee breath).

The payoff: research shows that baskets with snacks are higher in dollars, he said.

Access and allure is the key to centre store sales

There are a number of factors that influence centre store sales, but there are few that retailers can control said Harold Lloyd, a veteran grocery consultant. But one thing store managers can control is the layout of their aisles. “Analyze, don’t agonize,” said Lloyd.

To make your store more accessible, every aisle should be free of clutter. Make sure shoppers can pass through with their shopping cart. Lloyd points to what he calls the “nine-seven-five” rule. The perimeter of the store should be at least nine feet wide, any aisle with doors should be seven feet wide, and all other aisles should be at least five feet.

Once your customers can walk down the aisles, you need to give a reason for them to want to. Creative end caps, signage and in-store displays help entice shoppers.

Complacency kills

In a panel discussion between Frank Coleman, CEO of Colemans, and Frank Lovsin of Freson Bros. topics ranged from Warren Buffett to millennial shoppers. But both execs agreed that the key to an independent grocer’s survival is adapting and changing to fit the needs of its customers. Coleman praised the North West Company for overcoming logistical challenges to get product on shelves, and Farm Boy for its focus on fresh.

“You can never take your thinking cap off,” said Lovsin.

Coleman and Lovsin both spoke to the importance of fresh, as cooking culture grows and customers seek out fresh, healthy ingredients.

“Kids don’t normally think about fallibility, but these millennials do,” said Lovsin.

Determine what makes you different

Dr. Sylvain Charlebois of the University of Guelph’s Food Institute spoke of how the Canadian grocery industry is becoming more of a highly fragmented marketplace, with everything from dollar stores to farmers’ markets creating more competition for grocers. He said $5 billion of food was sold at farmers’ markets in Canada last year. Part of their popularity stems from the consumer trend of people wanting to know where their food comes from and the people that produce it.

Charlebois recommended that in this competitive environment, grocers ask themselves what kind of value adds they can offer consumers.

The subhed for the blurb above could be “Determining what makes your store different is more important than ever.”

The one-stop-shop remains elusive for ethnic consumers

Salima Jivraj presented insights from a recent study her agency, Halal & Co Marketing and Management, conducted with halal-conscious consumers (they were all ethnic millennials, and women). The study explored how this consumer feels about the Canadian retail environment, and showed this group shops at three stores each week for their groceries. Big drivers in the stores they choose are places that provide a quality shopping experience, high-quality of food and a good variety. These shoppers aren’t impressed with the fresh halal meat offered at mainstream grocers, preferring to shop separately for that at halal butcher shops. They will, however, buy frozen food at mainstream retailers.

Jivraj offered this tip to grocers that want to cater to consumers shopping the halal category: allow price matching so shoppers feel like they’re getting value.



 


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