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The Nielsen Company is out with new research saying that “as consumers return home for meals, the perishable department (bakery, fresh meat, deli and produce) is growing faster, leading non-grocery channels to take notice.” The report also urges retailers to get even more aggressive in marketing their advantages, using cross-merchandising, health and wellness, and online technologies to engage more effectively with shoppers.

Among the highlights of the report:

• “Perishable departments are becoming the most productive departments at retail:  household deli, bakery and fresh meat and seafood sales all on the rise.”

• “While nearly half (46%) of U.S. households say they are eating out less, value-priced meals at retail are posting double digit increases in supermarkets, supercenters and club stores.”

• “Supermarkets hold a dominant 70 percent market share in meat and seafood.  Key factors fueling sales: promotions.   Fifty-one percent of meat and seafood is purchased on sale, and prominent circular placement noted by 41 percent of shoppers.”

• “Alternative channels making strong push for perishables. Supercenters, in particular, have done a good job with perishable formats, growing both the purchase size and frequency of purchases.  This is especially true for meat and seafood departments.”

• “While supermarkets hold 50 percent of the deli business, smaller formats (convenience stores, delicatessens, etc) that offer "in and out" convenience are posting the biggest threat to supermarkets.”
KC's View:
The broader message of the Nielsen report is that while the recession has been good to retailers that have take advantage of the opportunity to market their wares aggressively to shoppers, it is not a permanent advantage...and certainly not an unassailable one.

My only suggestion to Nielsen is along the same lines of one that I have been making to retailers for years: eliminate the use of the word “perishables,” which is used consistently in its report. Perishables rot. “Fresh foods” is a far more positive word that emphasizes the possibilities of products rather than their ignominious end.