Excite to influence shoppers in the Deli categories

What comes to mind when you think of the instore deli? Inspiration and newness, or indifference and sameness?

For some shoppers, the answer will be the latter. While the opportunity to engage in the deli categories is there, it isn’t always being taken. So what can brands do to get more from this part of the store?

The deli department performs relatively well, with shoppers reporting slightly higher overall satisfaction than in total grocery (57% vs 56%). This is an increase of 3% on the previous year, with the biggest improvements coming from assortment and the choice of Australian products.

Within deli however there are wide variances in satisfaction and some categories perform better than others.

Overall satisfaction in deli categories

Among those categories that perform below the department average satisfaction score:

  • Fresh Fish/Seafood has the lowest satisfaction levels and under-indexes in price, product, assortment and execution measures. Nearly half of shoppers in this category would like to see more innovation
  • BBQ chicken performs slightly better than fish, but shoppers would still like to see improvements in range and packaging
  • Continental Deli Meats fall marginally below the department benchmark. Here the focus areas for improvement are price, innovation and theater

Clearly there is work to do in some categories but is there an overall challenge for the deli department in terms of shopper interest and engagement?

Deli is not generally for browsing

82% of deli shoppers want to make their choices in the department quickly, with half saying they know exactly what they want in advance. Putting this in context, the average grocery category sees 76% of shoppers wanting to “grab and go”. So deli is clearly an area that most will not stop and browse in.

However, deli does over-index significantly with shoppers who say they sometimes buy from the department on impulse because they felt like it at the time. This highlights a need to focus more on in-store visibility and displays that catch attention and encourage shoppers to engage with the department.

If there is a challenge with keeping shoppers interested, it may well stem from purchase frequency. Over half of deli shoppers buy from the department more often than once a week and this proportion is growing. While this is generally a positive thing, when people shop something as often as this, it can become repetitive and the risk is that shoppers slip into auto-pilot mode.

How can you entice and attract the deli shopper?

  • Lead on innovation: Deli is a ‘hero’ department. Meaning, when delivered well, it can help to drive retailer loyalty and do so at higher price points. It also means that new ideas and innovation have a key role to play and must stand out, through product, signage and displays
  • Simplicity and availability: with many shoppers reluctant to browse, it’s vital to keep things simple in-store. Complex ranges, merchandising and offers are likely to frustrate. Deli performs well on availability and thought it may sound obvious, this is vital to maintain. If a shopper chooses a retailer specifically because of the way they deliver deli, poor availability will be felt beyond the out of stock in question
  • Highlight premium: deli shoppers attach more importance to the delivery of premium options than average, and this is another key driver for a hero department. There is less need for deep discounts but crucially, a high standard of in-store delivery must be blended with strong pre-store messaging and awareness.
  • Age appeal: satisfaction with deli is below average among shoppers under the age of 40. They’re also more impulsive than those over 40 when shopping for deli. Younger shoppers cite location in store, layout and range as the key areas currently falling short. Food trends can change quickly, and shoppers today have a wide array of options available to them through foodservice, as well as artisan outlets. Incorporating more variety alongside traditional favourites within deli could be the key to engaging more younger shoppers.

Put the shopper first

Deli is a complex department, with different categories performing quite differently according to shoppers. Regardless of the category, the key to progress is to put those shoppers at the heart of the conversation. Find out and respond to what motivates and drives their deli purchases. Achieve this and excitement will be the word on more people’s lips when they shop the department.

By senior insight director David Shukri. Article originally published in Retail World Magazine and posted here with permission.

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