When it comes to merchandising fresh perishables, retailers need not limit their visibility to their respective departments. In fact, by identifying correlations between products — in other words, natural partnerships — stores can generate additional exposure to their products and engage shoppers based on eating and shopping patterns. This can assist them in developing new cross-merchandising and cross-promotional strategies.

Take fresh-baked bakery bread, for instance. According to International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association research, it has a strong correlation with 56 out of 221 store categories, including fresh salmon, tilapia, deli dips and spreads, and deli specialty meat.  This means that shoppers who purchase these items are also more likely to purchase bakery bread, although they may not be thinking that when entering the store for these products. The key is to hone in on specific shopping patterns when merchandising these products.

Our research shows that bakery bread has a strong correlation with both fresh salmon and value-added vegetables, two categories that are experiencing considerable growth. Also, consumers who buy these items along with bakery bread tend to have higher basket values; in this scenario, the basket value is $112.  It’s a perfect opportunity to boost bread sales.

Retailers can also really step-up easy meal solutions in this instance by displaying the salmon, vegetables, and bakery bread together. They could market it as cuisine found in a Mediterranean diet and display various whole grains as the bakery bread of choice.

The key here is to position the items together as a quick and healthy meal option. To appeal to smaller families, consider offering smaller sizes of bread like half loaves or slices. Given that Hispanic and Asian consumers over-index on both products, try placing bakery bread — especially varieties that appeal to these two demographics — near the fish counter.

In addition to individual consumer eating habits, shopping for special occasions and entertaining purposes also presents opportunities to take advantage of in-store product correlations. For example, fresh departments tend to see increased sales during the holidays, and bread pairs perfectly with many holiday food products, such as bean dip, bread bowls, and mini sandwich rolls. Retailers can take advantage of this by promoting breads that compliment other holiday favorites, such as specialty meats. It can be as easy as placing breads near your in-store delis with recipe ideas.