Retailers should put a consumer lens on their stores. Consumers think about the store in terms of an ecosystem and those running the store should to.

Those were some words of wisdom from Sherry Frey, senior vice-president of Nielsen, during her Sunday morning presentation “Merchandising, Marketing and Innovating for Entertaining Occasions” during IDDBA’s Dairy-Deli-Bake Seminar and Expo in Houston.

Two-thirds of all consumer trips to the supermarket involve the center store and fresh, Frey says, so retailers are presented with prime merchandising opportunities to connect the two areas.

Frey detailed three entertaining occasions that lend themselves to such opportunities: Fresh and Fancy Entertaining, Holidays are a Handful Entertaining, and No Work Entertaining.   

Each occasion includes categories correlated with other categories throughout the store, according to Neilsen’s “Total Store Connectivity” study, which was commissioned by IDDBA.

Fresh and Fancy Entertaining, for example, includes categories like deli/dip spreads, specialty deli meat, deli snacks and specialty cheese, which are routinely purchased along with berries, bakery bread, cooking vegetables, salmon, tomatoes and more.

The store can by a source of inspiration in the planning process, helping consumers accentuate their purchases with cooked-from-scratch dishes.  Look Books with good photography and ideas on how consumers can bring everything together can be successful.

For holiday occasions, brining center-store items to the fresh side can spark sales. For example, moving paper plates, condiments and grilling supplies into the meat department, all within 20 feet.

Check out instore over the following months for more insight from IDDBA speakers.