Is fresh killing the center store?
Are American’s healthy eating habits leading to a decline in center store sales in grocery stores? Has heightened demand for local products, widely perceived to be healthier, tastier and fresher, also worked against the center store?
Many center aisle brands have been challenged for growth while fresh and non-processed perimeter products are thriving.
The critical cereal category is particularly being hurt by on-the-go breakfast options such as granola bars and Greek yogurt as well as latest diet fads emphasizing high protein and low carbohydrates. More regular visits to mass merchandisers, clubs or dollar stores, which are known for lower prices, are seen affecting categories such as laundry and cleaning supplies.
According to its 2015 The Playbook, Kraft said the perception is that shoppers are "generally satisfied" with the center store, but the reality is that shoppers spend little time there. The CPG giant notes that according to a Video Mining study from Acosta from 2013, shoppers spend only 18 percent of their average grocery trip of just 13 minutes in the center store. That compares to 39 percent on the perimeter and 44 percent spent navigating the store and waiting in checkout lines.
At the same time, the center store contribution is often undervalued. Findings from Willard Bishop and Nielsen Insights show that the center store accounts for 73 percent of total dollar sales in the grocery channel.
In reimagining the center store, Kraft advises changing the layout in a few key ways:
- Organize by meal occasion
- Connect perimeter with center store
- Inspire and engage shoppers within the aisle
Madix, a display speclist, in a list of recommendations to lift center-store sales, suggests breaking up and staggering traditional long aisles and adding pyramid and recessed shelving, highlight lighting, sampling stations, and lifestyle graphics and signage. The firm also recommends using end-caps to push impulse rather than promotional items.
In its white paper, "Center Aisle Phobia," WayfinD, the quarterly e-magazine from WD Partners, railed against flimsy, stand-up cardboard displays, coupon dispensers, uninspiring floor graphics, and "static and monotonous" merchandising. Wrote WayfindD, "People like novelty, surprise, permanence, and symmetry no matter where they are. Even in a grocery store."
- Your healthy habits are eating into packaged foods industry – The Washington Post
- Packaged facts sales of local foods reaches $12bn – Packaged Facts
- 2015 The Playbook – Kraft
- 10 ways to lift center store sales – Madix
- Wayfind, a dialogue on customer experience – WayfindD
- Want To Increase Store Traffic, Loyalty And Growth? Re Think The Center Store – Nielsen
What do you think is behind the decline in center store sales? What should retailers do to address this situation?