Making Friends Across the Aisle in specialty food marketing

State of snacking in grocery chains

It may not make you popular if you’re a congressperson, but if you’re in specialty food marketing,  take a tip from Nielsen’s report on snacking: crossing the aisle to create promotions across the store is the path to success.  They measure and rate correlations on ‘high connectivity” purchases: for example, fresh chicken breasts, which have strong positive correlation with 133 other categories across the store – accounting for 56% of store sales.  A sale of chicken breasts lifts sales for rice, mac and cheese, and other foods. Logical, right?

What’s  surprising is that the correlations aren’t always recipe-driven: beef sales are “also closely tied to a variety of snacking products including fresh grapes, salty snacks and even sweets and desserts in the frozen and bakery aisles.”

Why?  Maybe beef feels more indulgent, or has become a more of an occasion meat, which influences the addition of dessert.

The underlying concept is that consumers see the store in total, not in categories.  That’s also why, as we’ve written before, promotions are more successful when they’re near the front of the store, before consumers make the kind of anchor purchases that direct the rest of their basket. A consumer at the beginning of the shopping trip is formulating ideas, but as she progresses, her thinking becomes more concrete and her choices align accordingly.

What does this mean for your promotions and NPD?  It increases the scope of your possible co-promotion partners, for one.  And maybe instead of adding yet another SKU to your product line, you test the appeal of the flavor combination first with a partnership promotion. (We can’t ALL have a Nutella flavor!)

For sales, help the buyer see how your product lifts sales across the store by going beyond seasonality and showing how many categories your product can influence – dairy, spices, school lunch, etc.  Stores are looking to maximize items in basket, so show them how you’re a high-correlation driver, making friends in other aisles.

To maximize the success of your promotions, look at high-correlations like 4th of July – the highest season for meat sales – and figure out how you can fit that promotion picture – even if you’re not a typical 4th of July product.

To end on a happy note, the average person reaches for 12 different kinds of snacks in any given month, and while indulgent snacks grew respectably, snacks that combine health and convenience are the double-digit winners. Numbers like those make friends everywhere.