Home > Communications > Independent View

Exciting Your Shoppers about Center Store

Author: Phil Lempert
Phil LempertOctober 1, 2013

A message to IGA retailers from...
Phil Lempert
The Supermarket Guru®

Phil Lempert, known as The Supermarket Guru®, is an expert analyst on consumer behavior, marketing trends, new products and the changing retail landscape. Today Lempert shares insights about center stores sales.

It feels like every food retail conference and every trade magazine out there is focused on reversing the downward spiral of center store. And with good reason: In a survey this spring, 50 percent of retailers told Supermarket News that they've reallocated some center store space to perimeter departments.

Sales growth challenges are real, with causes ranging from store issues—such as narrow aisles that make it difficult for customers to navigate—to product problems—like an abundance of over-processed foods loaded with sugars and sodium and labels that are hard to read.

To be blunt, a major shortcoming of center store is that its products don't compete with fresh foods when it comes to excitement, uniqueness or flavor. When is the last time you saw a jar of heirloom tomato sauce on your shelf, or meat ravioli made with Angus beef in the frozen-foods case?
Although retailers throughout the country struggle with just how to reinvigorate center store, there's only one sure way that would make a significant difference: better product formulations that capture more of the wholesome goodness and appeal of fresh foods.

Yes, this is mostly a challenge for CPG to rethink their food and beverage offerings, but that's not to say you can't make a difference right now. You can start by expanding your natural and organic products lines (there are many offerings available from your IGA Red Oval partners) and be sure that you're also stocking the newest IGA Exclusive Brand products that truly differentiate with unique, authentic and exciting tastes (think new items like IGA's premium frozen pizzas, ravioli and tortellini, and new grocery items like long grain brown rice, pure maple syrup and dried cranberries).

Even the simplest additions to your product mix can drive shoppers to the center of your store, increasing sales and building shopper loyalty in the process.

Phil Lempert