If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Join ‘Em
Independent grocery stores have always faced stiff competition from other retailers, especially big chains and discount warehouses. Now they’re competing with online meal kit services, which have exploded within the food industry over the past few years. With a store full of fresh ingredients, including a wide range of pre-measured, pre-cut and pre-washed items, independent grocers are positioned to grab a share of the growing meal kit segment.
25% of Americans say they would consider trying a meal kit in the next six months (more than 30 million households), according Nielson Fresh.
Changing the Game
Grocery stores eliminate many of the key pain points for online meal kits.
- They are available in the same space where consumers already go to stock up on food,
- a subscription isn’t required,
- and, in most cases, they’re cheaper.
Nevertheless, with the number of competitors out there, simply offering fresh ingredients and easy recipes no longer cuts it in the competitive meal kit industry. The best way to win is to change the game: stand out with unique in-store experiences, community-oriented customer service and a level of flexibility that online meal kit services and big box chains can’t replicate.
Five Quick Tips for your Meal Kit Program:
1. Menu Options: Keep it simple. The idea behind a meal kit is to make it incredibly easy, and most of all, convenient. Meals should be able to be prepared in 30 to 45 minutes using simple techniques with little to no prep work. Be sure to change your menu options often to keep it fresh.
Tailor meal kits to your target customers – are you focusing on smaller households or households with kids? Are you after the time-starved traditional eater or the foodie? Will you offer gluten-free meals, vegan options?, etc. It all comes down to the right product for the right customer.
2. Preparation: Creating your own meal kits involves the prep work and packaging being done in-house. Each meal kit should be pre-measured with the exact ingredients needed and portion-ready to save customers money and eliminate waste. To help with food preparation, Hubert offers a huge selection of food prep supplies from scales and measuring devices to knives and commercial cutting boards.
Color-coded cutting boards and cutlery are an effective way to create a contamination-free prep station. Colors are often used to identify particular food groups, which minimizes the risk of cross-contamination. Note: Employees who are preparing and packaging food kits may need additional training, especially regarding cross-contamination issues.
3. Packaging: Packaging is perhaps the most critical element of the meal kit operation. Stores must ensure that raw meats and vegetables get to the customer without being contaminated. Meal kit packaging should be as light and compact as possible. By making sure you have the right size containers, you can save space and money while offering your customers the freshest product possible.
Vacuum Packaged products can last 3 to 5 times longer than non-vacuum packaged foods. Not only does this reduce waste and spoilage, but the food will taste fresher, too.
4. Presentation: Dedicate space in a high traffic area, preferably the front of the store, to maximize customer exposure to your meal kits. Create an appealing display using colors and creative décor to grab attention and make shoppers want to stop and enter the space.
Change the display regularly to give your customers a fresh experience every time they shop.
5. Signage: A good Signage strategy enhances the customer experience and can really add to the atmosphere of your meal kit station if used properly. Ideally your signage should perform these three functions: attract new customers, brand your product and create impulse sales.
Use signs that can be changed easily from week to week, such as write-on/wipe-off signs, LED signs and chalkboard signs to display your kit information. Feature directional signs on the floors and shelves to help communicate with customers and drive traffic to your meal kit display. Banners are a great way to guide shoppers to the kits, especially when you have spatial limitations.
How We Can Help
As independent grocers jockey for market share, many are struggling with how to implement a meal kit program into their store. We understand the challenges stores face and can help you create a meal kit strategy, from ingredient preparation and packaging, to product placement and marketing.
Interested in learning more about meal kits and how you can turn your brand into a dinnertime savior? Contact us. We’re always cooking up creative solutions to redefine the customer experience.