Store: Mahomet IGA
Location: Mahomet, Illinois
Owner: Brooks Marsh
We know consumers are looking for solutions where they can come in the store and get a quick meal, or even a meal idea. The time-starved shopper who doesn’t know what they want for dinner that night; the young shopper who doesn’t cook well; the parent who needs to get a healthy meal on the table after working and picking up the kids from practice—all of these shoppers need grocery stores to make it easy for them to make a good meal.
We started offering three types of meal solutions for these shoppers:
- Pre-made, microwaveable meals. These meal solutions for one or two people feature a meat, a side, and a vegetable. We offer about 10 different varieties of these, all made in-store.
- Ready-to-heat customizable options. Shoppers can choose pre-seasoned meats, fish, and vegetables that are already portioned out in a microwaveable bag. All they have to do is pair the protein with the vegetable, take the bags home, and pop them in the microwave. We offer pre-seasoned chicken (a best seller), prime rib sliced about an inch and a half thick, salmon, pollock, and even a pre-seasoned steak. Green beans and ears of corn are our best-selling vegetables, and we also offer a mixed vegetable bag and potatoes. Our wholesaler provides the bags with the instructions and we fill them with the appropriate meat, fish, or produce.
- Hello Fresh meal kits. We sell Hello Fresh meal kits in-store, which include the protein, vegetables, spices, and instructions on how to cook the dish.
Positioned under a big sign that says “Quick and Easy,” the meal solutions are bringing in about $2,000 a week in this section alone while also boosting sales in the deli.
- $2,000 in additional sales each week from the “Quick and Easy” meal solutions section.
- 3 types of meal solutions: pre-made microwaveable, customizable ready-to-heat in microwave bag, Hello Fresh meal kits.
Why it Works
For Our Shoppers
Quick and easy meal solution for shoppers. Shoppers can get a whole meal that is high quality and tastes good.
Time saver. Customers appreciate being able to get a quick meal instead of buying ingredients from the shelves.
Healthy alternative to fast food. Our shoppers can go home and feed their family a balanced meal with quality protein and produce rather than stopping at a fast food restaurant.
For Our Store
Brings in more shoppers. We have a lot of shoppers who shop every night for perishables, which didn’t used to happen. Once we get them in the door, we have the opportunity to sell them sides, snacks, and more.
Reaches young shoppers. Millennials are shopping differently than previous generations, spending more money in restaurants than grocery stores. By offering high quality, easy-to-prepare, time-saving meal solutions, we have the opportunity to earn the loyalty of younger shoppers.
Unique differentiator. When competing with low-priced retailers like Aldi, these meal solutions serve as a unique differentiator. We offer a solution to the time-starved, health-conscious shopper that other stores do not and cannot.
Contact your supplier for ready-to-fill microwaveable bags. These bags make it easy for our store to assemble the meal solutions using meat and vegetables from our deli and produce departments. They also make it easy for our shoppers to heat, plate, and enjoy the food quickly and easily.
Designate a section, sign it well, and label the bags so they’re easy to read. The section might be a full “Quick and Easy” section like ours or just a case in the deli. Use what’s best for your store.
Start small to have a full-looking case. You’ll have some shrink at first, but as you figure out the ideal offering amount for your store, you will reduce your shrink and start making a profit.
Market through Facebook. We have really good social media contact with our customers, so promoting the meal solutions through Facebook got the word out quickly and easily, with sales steadily increasing from there.
- Find solutions that fit your people—it’s not about what you want, but what your shoppers want. That’s how we ended up with salmon and pollack as our fish offerings, as we received the best feedback with those fish.
- A branded meal kit like Hello Fresh might not work for every store, but it worked for us.