Fresh meat and football a winning combo

December 01, 2011

Supermarkets have a chance to win over tailgaters by placing fresh-meat vending machines near stadiums.

Here’s a way for supermarkets to associate their fresh meat offerings with the ultimate guy fun (many women participate too) of football tailgating. Set up refrigerated meat vending machines in or near stadium parking lots, where large blocks of ravenous fans secure spaces, park for hours before and after games, grill plenty of food, drink beer, play catch, socialize and stretch a three-hour spectator event into a full-day gathering.

The principle is the same at college, high school and community ball fields, where people tailgate not only to enjoy more time outdoors, but also to show off their gear and grilling skills. Supermarkets that work out the logistics and licenses to place fresh meat (give people a choice of marinated or not) can become a much-appreciated solutions provider, and gain profits and branding exposure in the process.

The thickness of tailgating magazines on display at Home Depot signal the size of this market, which supermarkets haven’t courted except in traditional ways. By placing meat products (the MVPs of any barbecue) at the point of heating and consumption, supermarkets add convenience to the tailgating experience – which The Lempert Report feels people will pay for.

Currently, a Lil Mart convenience store in Odenville, Alabama, has the Smart Butcher fresh meat vending machine on its selling floor. It’s been in for barely a month, and it is gaining attention partly because the nearest supermarket is at least six miles away, store manager Anna Sagani told the Los Angeles Times.

The c-store is a different application, but the idea is the same – people like the convenience.

One cautionary word for supermarkets:  they’d better not disappoint with out-of-stocks or spoiled meat, because once people drive up to these machines at their football destination, it’s game time with no second chance to satisfy.