Supermarkets need to change their center store operating philosophy from one that focuses on traditional category management to one that starts its planning with a focus on customers, panelists at FMI’s Midwinter Executive Conference said Monday.
“We have to put shopper demand at the front of the process,” said John Lewis, president and CEO, Nielsen Consumer North America, a division of The Nielsen Co. “It is a battle for trips.”
While discussion at the Phoenix conference is focusing on national brand manufacturer roles in helping supermarkets, the same lessons mentioned can be used by private label manufacturers.
Consumers are looking for convenience and meal solutions, Lewis said. They have seasonal food needs as well as special occasion food needs, such as birthday parties, for which they shop. Supermarkets should recognize and merchandise for those occasions.
More listening to consumers and more consumer research is needed, agreed the panel of supermarket and national brand company executives which Lewis chaired.
National brand manufacturers need to provide shopper insights to help retailers, the panelists said. The same principle holds for private label suppliers who want to increase the role private label plays in center store.
In-store signage can help make shopping trips more convenient for consumers, noted panelist Dave Bornmann, vice president, grocery and non-food, for Publix Super Markets Inc. Publix also has introduced an online ordering system which allows shoppers to pick up their groceries curbside at a local Publix, he added.
Center store accounts for 73 percent of supermarket sales and 77 percent of profits, Lewis noted.