Last summer, the retailer launched a chain-wide themed program called Plant Powered, featuring in-store signs identifying a variety of healthy plant-based foods, including soy and almond milks. The initiative was inspired by both general health-and-wellness trends and shopper feedback, Weis’ manager of lifestyle initiatives, Beth Stark, tells Progressive Grocer.
“We recognized that there was a heightened interest in learning more about the plant-based way of eating,” she explains. “That said, we developed messaging to educate our shoppers about the types of foods that shape plant-based meals; how to gradually incorporate more of these foods into a weekly meal plan; and easy, family-friendly recipes to try at home.”
The messaging was featured in product shelf tags for eight weeks, and included products under Weis’ own brands, as well as Full Circle products and select national brands. It included a broad number of categories, including soy and almond milks, beans and lentils, and select nuts, as well as less protein-rich items such as fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables; fruits packed in 100 percent juice or water; vegetables that can be drained and rinsed; whole-grain rice, pasta, cereal, bread and specialty grains; healthful oils; and tea.
In-store dietitians also worked with associates to plan in-store events such as workshops, samplings and store tours around the theme.
“Feedback was very positive,” confirms Stark. “We felt that, based on the customer response and sales metrics, the program was impactful.”
Another retailer that has taken action to help its shoppers navigate the newest options in plant-based protein categories is Lucky Supermarkets, a subsidiary of The Save Mart Cos. Last fall, the retailer joined forces with the San Francisco-based Plant Based Foods Association to introduce a marketing campaign providing information to consumers about plant-based foods available in the grocer’s 70 Northern California stores. The campaign, Fall in Love with Plant Based, ran eight weeks and included the participation of 16 PBFA member brands: Almond Breeze, Beyond Meat, Califia Farms, Daiya Foods, Follow Your Heart, Forager, Good Karma Foods, Lightlife Foods, Milkadamia, MorningStar Farms, NadaMoo!, Pure Blends, Quorn, Ripple Foods, Sweet Earth and Tofurky.
Specifically focusing on plant-based milks, yogurts and cheeses, along with plant-based meat alternatives, the promotion featured various display elements throughout the store, including advertising stands, register screen ads and educational booklets with coupons. Select stores hosted in-store tastings. Meanwhile, Lucky Supermarkets and the Plant Based Foods Association also promoted the campaign on social media and radio.
While storewide special promotions are a great way to highlight protein-related products, retailers have plenty of other opportunities to provide education and time-saving tips in specific departments, including meat and dairy.
Meat knowledge, including information about types of cuts and preparation methods, plays an important role in influencing consumer purchasing habits, observes Michael Schumpp, director of public affairs and member communications for the North American Meat Institute, based in Washington, D.C.