Food merchandising is about more than just stocking your shelves and creating easy-to-read product signage that points customers in the right direction. There's a lot that goes into successful merchandising, and being creative will pay off when it comes to your grocery store's bottom line. If you're looking for an interesting, fun way to attract customers to certain products, perhaps it's time to consider setting up a few food demonstrations. Here's what you need to know to pull off a successful demo.
Learn what a demo is
According to the Arizona Nutrition Network, there are three types of food demonstrations that grocery stores can implement in their advertising campaigns:
- Single ingredient: These samples are best for fruits, vegetables and healthy foods that people may not know much about, like starfruit or radicchio. They're prepared and cut into bite-size pieces for customers to sample.
- Precooked: This is when a recipe is prepared ahead of time and served in sample sizes at your establishment. Something like quinoa or cous cous would make a good precooked sample.
- Cooking a dish: This demo shows an audience how to prepare an entire recipe. It could be something like a specific type of salad or a side dish.
First, take a moment to consider your customers. Ask yourself what kinds of foods they might be interested in and what level of knowledge they might have about specific foods or dishes. That should help you determine a theme for your demo, like "After-school snacks your kids will love," "Exotic vegetables" or "Quick dinners you can make in 30 minutes or less." From there, you can choose a product or dish to feature. When you've made a choice, it's in your best interest to try making the recipe at home or figure out how to divide certain products into sample-sized pieces.
Along with the ingredients of the dish itself, you'll need a few more things to pull off the demo. A table to put everything on is a must, and if you're cooking in front of an audience, you may want to set up some chairs if you have the space. You'll also need food service equipment and food trays to help you cook and serve the food. Napkins, plates or cups, appropriate flatware and a trash can are also necessary. If you're doing a more involved demo, you may want to create pamphlets with the recipe printed on it along with the nutritional information. If you're doing a single ingredient demo, consider using display risers to ensure that the product is readily available for those who like the samples.
A lot of prep work is involved in a food demo. The table should be set up well beforehand with all of the materials neatly arranged. Each ingredient should be ready to eat or use in the recipe unless you're also demonstrating how to prepare a certain ingredient for cooking. It also helps to have examples of how the recipe or ingredients look in different stages.
Find the right presenter
The person who gives the demonstration should be friendly, knowledgeable and prepared. He or she should feel comfortable talking to customers about the product or recipe and answering any questions they may have. A clean, put-together appearance will convey professionalism, while an appropriate style of dress will ensure safety – avoid dangling sleeves or jewelry if the presenter will be cooking.
Pay attention to food safety
Be sure that the food you're serving is safe for your customers to eat. It's crucial to avoid cross-contamination if there's any meat or eggs involved in the dish, and every ingredient should be kept at the appropriate temperature. This may require the use of ice bins or buffet warmers.
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