Foodservice@Retail: Grocerants: Describe the appeal of sandwiches as magnet foods for grocerants. Please share consumer insights and data to support this view.
Tina Battistoni-Paul, Rich Products: Sandwiches’ versatility gives grocerants the chance to appeal to multiple preferences and tastes, while playing up freshness appeal. The aroma of fresh baked bread, and the theatre of freshly made sandwiches in an inviting environment, help retailers differentiate and create destinations. Consumers increasingly choose grocery outlets over restaurants (43% vs. 33%, Hartman Eating Occasions Compass Data 2016) for lunch options. Most (66%, Datassentials Supermarket Prepared Food & Beverage Keynote report, October 2016) express interest in freshly prepared cold and hot sandwiches, and say their top need-states are Fresh, Quick and Flavor Distinction. Grocerants can maximize sandwich appeal by creating signature items that keep customers coming back.
FRG: Comment on sandwich trends and innovations for 2017-2018.
Battistoni-Paul: There are many exciting sandwich trends in flavors and format. Sandwiches with bold and ethnic flavors are more widespread - and an opportunity for retailers to appeal to broader consumer bases. On-trend carriers such as flatbreads, and authentic styles like Piada (or Piadina, a thin Italian flatbread), are gaining traction at QSRs, which focused in the past on standard bread choices like sub rolls. Consumers’ desire for health and authenticity will continue to drive demand for products with simple ingredients, and for meal solutions that deliver authentic experiences.
FRG: Why are sandwiches good operationally for grocerants?
Battistoni-Paul: Retailers are uniquely positioned to offer a variety of sandwich options, using vast amounts of readily available fresh ingredients. Fresh departments can often work hand-in-hand to manage shrink and maximize usage of bread, produce and meats. A way to build trial and leave a lasting impression is to rotate in seasonal vegetables and unique fresh items. Sandwiches’ versatility enables grocerants to offer customized make-to-order and grab-and-go formats in varied portion sizes.
FRG: Are sandwiches good catalysts of companion sales to build transactions?
Battistoni-Paul: The popularity rise of combo meals in restaurants and grocerants continues. Sandwiches are perfect companions to many items - from soup and baked goods for personal meals, to pizza, snacks and beverages for larger group occasions.
Deli Prepared Foods play a crucial role at “best-in- class” Fresh retailers. Operators creating destinations, with high share in differentiated categories such as sandwiches, see positive impacts on overall store performance. The best Fresh retailers have more unique connections between perimeter and center-store to help grow basket size and appeal to younger multicultural shoppers (Nielsen Fresh Guiding Principles 2016). So not only can a robust Deli Prepared Food offering with sandwiches positively impact Deli department sales, but it can also drive sales across the store.
FRG: Any sandwich sourcing tips for grocerants?
Battistoni-Paul: There are many sourcing options for grocerants, depending on their space and operational footprint. Grocerants can bake fresh bread on site – at the Bakery or Sandwich Station – to maximize freshness cues and allure with aroma. By using frozen bread or roll dough, grocerants can offer a fresh-baked experience without the complexity of mixing dough at store level. To meet consumers’ desire for variety while minimizing shrink, grocerants might also consider a frozen baked roll format for unique items. Sandwich carriers like flatbreads, ciabatta and brioche can enhance sandwich programs through variety, authenticity and wider appeals.
FRG: Any sandwich training tips for grocerants?
Battistoni-Paul: Like any foodservice establishment, it’s crucial that grocerants establish necessary food safety practices. Grocerants need to consider staffing and preparation guidelines for sandwiches, depending on if they make to order, pre-make for grab-and-go, or both. Such training and recipe-building will ensure consistency, and equipment such as scales help with portion control.
FRG: Any sandwich marketing tips for grocerants?
Battistoni-Paul: Many marketing techniques can create awareness and drive demand for sandwiches at grocerants. In-store menu boards showcase ingredients, promote specials, and alert customers to new items. Establishing special stations for make-to-order “limited time offer” sandwiches keeps offerings fresh, generates excitement and highlights a signature creation.
Grocerants should also consider seasonal promotions and tastes (such as a turkey/cranberry sandwich during the winter holidays, tomato/basil for summer, etc.), as well as pairings with soup, fruit or baked goods. Combo meal deals continue to grow, and are especially popular among younger consumers. It is also important to market outside the store on company websites, offer digital coupons, and leverage social media with calls-to-action to trial new products you may offer for only a limited time.
FRG: Do you see sandwiches as good platforms (with the right signage and menu messaging) for showing off ingredients available elsewhere in the store?
Battistoni-Paul: Absolutely! Sandwiches can be a platform to showcase ingredient variety and seasonality, and to promote item trial in other store departments. Consumers and especially Millennials are likelier to try new or unique foods at retail stores than at restaurants (Technomic Retail Meal Solutions Consumer Trends Report, 2015). Grocerants can leverage sandwiches to draw attention to premium vegetables, ethnic cheeses and bold sauces that might only be available in their stores for a limited time. This is another way to engage with shoppers, and create destinations and shopping experiences that earn new, productive trips.