Meat merchandising needs a makeover

July 22, 2011

Too often a plain Jane, a perkier fresh meat case could make buying decisions easier for shoppers.

Retailers make shoppers work hard to visualize how different fresh meats can stand out as stars of the home dinner table – and their bland merchandising could be costing them sales. Sure, cut-up animal parts look quite similar. And they lack the benefit of packagers with the design skills to grab attention of people seeking meal solutions.

Whether self-service or butcher-driven, The Lempert Report feels supermarkets can do more to romance the department and enliven fresh meat cases – in the process helping to organize the shopping trip, ease the purchase decision and inspire shopper confidence that slabs of meat can become tasty meals.

Much like open kitchens in restaurants, supermarkets could create more open windows that allow shoppers to see butchers at work.  By increasing access to butchers, they’d become trusted experts advising on meal prep, seasonings and safe storage – as well as potentially tougher questions on sourcing, feeding and the humane treatment of the animals. Butchers could also grind up sirloin on demand for people who want burgers without risk of e.coli.  Recipes encourage trial and incremental purchases.  

Beyond this, visual cues could help shoppers differentiate at a glance the assorted types of meats. Think colored trays or shelf separators that identify pork, beef, bison, lamb and other meats. Or segment displays of meat for grilling, roasting or stewing, and adjust their space by the time of year – more grilling exposure in the summer, more stewing in the winter, for example. Better lighting could also improve the presentation.

Since meat is a primary trip driver, today’s merchandising gap is inexcusable. The Lempert Report feels that stronger visual cues would add to departmental appeal and productivity. They would also relieve the traffic jams so common in this area when people deliberate over their choices – which could potentially be made more automatic.