Food passions can surface in supermarkets

November 29, 2011

With the right mix of food preparers and entrepreneurs on staff, stores can differentiate and build enthusiasm to a boil.

By adding new levels of food passion and entrepreneurism to the supermarket labor force, stores and their prepared-food offerings could become more competitive and appealing than ever. Stores could become much more than distributors and merchants of food products – they could bring new creativity and excitement to edibles, and help make family the food-buying trip far more satisfying.

Where will this passion and business-building energy come from? These traits are available in new talent pools that supermarkets could mine – if they’re among early movers to court them.

Consider, for example, food-truck entrepreneurs, who are suddenly squeezed by parking and curbside regulations in many municipalities.  Less than a year ago, their entrepreneurial futures looked bright – until tax-paying, rent-paying restaurant operators complained and cities restricted where the trucks could do their business. Many of these truckies have built followings for their foods based on cooking excellence and masterful use of social media to announce their locations. The Lempert Report thinks supermarkets should hire them to bring new diversity in prepared foods to their stores.

Also available are youthful innovators who financed their college educations by starting legitimate licensed businesses to deliver late-night food to campuses. They filled a vacuum: students keep irregular hours and have little to choose from in the way of institutional food choices at night. Couldn’t supermarkets use this ingenuity too? Plenty of bar hoppers, work crammers and insomniacs are up late and hungry.

Supermarkets should also look to recruit Millennials (ages 17 to 34), who are enthusiastic about cooking (25%), even if only six percent have advanced kitchen skills, according to data in a new Mintel report. They can be taught how to cook , we feel at The Lempert Report, as long as they have the ingredient of excitement for food, which it appears many do. Imagine how effective they could be stirring shoppers’ passion for experimentation and healthful cooking, with a hefty dash of socialization and warming up the store as a destination.