With traditional grocery’s share of the fresh food dollar on the decline, communication about produce, protein and prepared foods is more critical than ever. In this five-part series, “Don’t Miss Out,” AlixPartners experts break down often-missed marketing opportunities grocers must seize to experience the full power of fresh for their business.

Too often, grocers talk with their fresh food suppliers only about how to get product on the shelf. They should also talk about how to get product off the shelf. The details of the deal – pricing, logistics, short-term forecasts – will always seem more urgent, but dialogue on how to grow together long-term shouldn’t be neglected. Grocers leave money on the table when they prioritize procurement conversations rather than selling conversations.

With CPG vendors, marketing partnership tends to be relatively plug-and-play given established trade funding practices and retail media network possibilities. If meaningful participation in a grocer’s channels requires an annual marketing budget in the tens of millions, however, fresh food won’t have much representation. That’s a problem given the role of fresh food in shopper store choice and the contribution fresh food makes to profit.

Grocers need to get proactive to address the gap. Below are three areas they should explore with their suppliers.

Innovative marketing opportunities

Many suppliers serve grocers of all different sizes, formats, geographies and go-to-market strategies. Given their visibility across this spectrum, suppliers can often be a fantastic resource on how to creatively market their products. Grocers should ask them to share success stories: tactics that led to higher sales, greater space allotment or more shopper engagement. Grocers should give suppliers a chance to suggest that bold idea they’ve envisioned but never expected a grocer would try. They should encourage their suppliers to fill in the blanks on statements like, “If only people knew this about our product …” and brainstorm on how to tell the story together.

Broader promotional partnerships

The Have a Plant program from the Produce for Better Health Foundation (now part of the International Fresh Produce Association) and the Produce for Kids program from Healthy Family Project are two examples of broader promotional partnerships in which grocers can participate. These organizations partner with multiple supplier brands and create huge libraries of marketing content around them. If a grocer’s marketing team has limited capacity but the grocer still likes the idea of increasing the presence of fresh in its shopper-facing channels, these kinds of content partnerships are worth investigating.

Adjusted price lists

Grocers should want smaller suppliers across departments to participate in the comprehensive marketing packages that most often get leveraged by the CPG giants. Because emerging, local and niche brands tend to have seasonal and unique products that create assortment differentiation, making it feasible for those companies to engage more fully in a grocer’s retail media ecosystem will be a mutually beneficial endeavor. Grocers should ask suppliers about what they could reasonably invest in those channels and do their best to accommodate them.

Next up in this series – Don’t miss out: Unite your merchants, your marketers and your stores for fresh food success


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