1. Effectively publicize summer promotions.

Encino, Calif.-based Gelson’s executives plan to utilize its social media platforms, newsletter ads, and customer reward offers to spread the word about specials. Last summer, Gelson’s created a flyer touting 20% off for wild blue Mexican shrimp, highlighting photos of the shrimp at the ocean as well as cooked on a plate, and spread the word across social media, email and other avenues.

2. Start spreading the word early about summer seafood promotions.

Let customers know in May and June that you are the headquarters for summer seafood favorites, said Chuck Anderson, vice president of operations/partner for Dallas, Texas-based Certified Quality Foods, which helps retailers and distributors measure quality seafood. “Memorial Day and Fourth of July are prime time, as are all the weeks of May and June,” he noted. “By mid or end of July and August, it gets harder to generate strong sales for seafood promotions due to back-to-school spending that curbs discretionary spending.”

Much of summer seafood sales are impulse purchases of grilling items, cold salads, dips, and grab-and-go picnic type items, Anderson added.

3. Offer a wide range of price points.

Given consumers’ concerns about inflation and the economy, retailers should offer a range of product price points that appeal to both upscale and budget-minded consumers, Anderson suggested. “Keep in mind many seafood products are not cheap and will be out of reach for some customers,” he said.

Supermarkets should also be targeting foodservice sales with ready to eat and ready to cook items that compete directly with restaurants. “Why pay restaurant prices, when you can save 50% or more and still have a great eating experience with a salmon burger, salmon, pinwheel or grab and go shrimp cocktail?” Anderson said.

Roerink is seeing more retailers and restaurants create meal offers in which other items with a lower price per pound/unit — such as fresh produce or baked goods — are included with seafood. Even though seafood is the more expensive part of the meal, the other items keep the total cost per serving in check, she said.

4. Heavily promote seafood options for Father’s Day, Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day and other holidays/events.

Despite some shoppers’ price concerns, people are willing to splurge a little more on holidays and special occasions, noted Anne-Marie Roerink, principal at 210 Analytics.

5. Cross merchandise fresh seafood with other departments.

The summer grilling theme brings forth an opportunity for many parts of the store to work together, said Jason Driskill, vice president of seafood at HEB. “Seafood and produce work well on the grill, particularly as skewers/kabobs, but grilled vegetables in general make a nice side dish to any seafood plate.”

6. Emphasize the health benefits of seafood.

More consumers are willing to splurge on health, nutrition, and self-care, Roerink said. “By educating about the healthful properties or sustainable production, consumers may be willing to spend a little more,” she said.

Over the past few summers, ASMI has seen very successful promotions for Alaska seafood that highlight health and sustainability benefits, along with its ease of use, said Amy Dukes, head of retail marketing for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.

7. Provide cooking tips and recipes.

Among seafood consumers, the majority (66%) say cooking guidance would help them cook it more often, Dukes said. Pairing seasonal promotions with usage inspiration, recipe cards or cooking tips are all great strategies.

This article is an excerpt from the May 2024 issue of Supermarket Perimeter. You can read the entire Seafood Merchandising feature and more in the digital edition here.