Tips for Showcasing Thanksgiving Sides at Your Grocery Store

Turkey Day is just around the corner, and grocery store owners across the country are preparing for the big rush. The day before Thanksgiving is one of the biggest shopping days of the year. In recent years, however, customer trends have changed, with prepackaged turkey dinners flying off the shelves in growing number, according to ABC. In fact, over 40 percent of shoppers purchased more prepared foods in Thanksgiving 2013 than they had the year before.

When it comes to buying prepared foods, customers trust the freshness and service they’ve come to expect from local groceries. According to Food Business News, 19 percent of Americans surveyed planned to purchase prepared items from grocery stores during the Thanksgiving rush, versus only 6 percent who would use a restaurant or caterer. Make sure your grocery store is ready with the following marketing tips for Thanksgiving meals and sides:

Offer Convenience
Brian Darr, managing director at Datassential, tells Food Business News that grocery stores may improve sales of ready-to-eat items by promoting dishes that are more difficult to prepare.

“If they promote things like the tougher-to-prepare-at-home foods—the roasts, the barbecue, things that take more time or have a lot more cleanup—they can potentially generate more traffic.”

Offering Thanksgiving-To-Go? Create your Thanksgiving menu early for website posting, social media, and fliers, and catch the attention of customers who seek quality as well as convenience. If your ribs are slow-cooked and your bread rolls made from scratch, emphasize this in your marketing materials.

Offer Organic and Gluten-Free
Another Thanksgiving trend is the rising popularity of organic and gluten-free items. Market your gluten-free items by having an expert on hand to answer questions about the preparation and health benefits of gluten-free foods.

Whole Foods Market, for instance, has been known to dedicate pre-holiday shopping days to a “gluten-free Thanksgiving,” with lifestyle experts available for meet-and-greets and to offer delicious gluten-free samples, tips, and recipes to shoppers.

Man the Produce Section
One Ann Arbor grocery store, Busch’s Fresh Food Market, reports earning 20 percent of their sales during Thanksgiving week on produce alone. Of that percentage, green beans, cranberries, sweet potatoes, and squash are the biggest earners.

Inspire your Thanksgiving shoppers with printed recipe cards placed in designated areas of your produce section. Gourmet recipes like Green Beans with Lemon and Pine Nuts and Caramelized Butternut Squash made with minimal ingredients that come together for a flavorful dish will inspire your patrons to shop and do a little cooking of their own.

Show Off the Little Things
According to Rachael Ray Magazine, foodies in search of a bargain can find pricey spices and nuts for up to 85 percent less at health food stores than in supermarkets.

Don’t lose your customers to specialty grocers. Create Thanksgiving displays by pulling smaller items like spices and nuts off the shelves and drawing attention to bulk bins.

Prepare for Pie Season
Nothing beats the smell of fresh-baked pie wafting from your bakery section to attract busy shoppers. While the traditional apple and pumpkin are always a hit on Thanksgiving, you’ll stand out from the competition with gourmet varieties like Caramel Pumpkin, Rum Raisin Apple, and Pumpkin Ginger Cheesecake. Tout the use of farm-fresh, local ingredients, a handmade crust, and seasonal fruit fillings!

Want to know which of your Thanksgiving offerings made the biggest impact? Revel’s Intelligent Reporting on the iPad POS gathers data on sales numbers, from products sales to order histories. Whether your were short on honey-baked hams or found plain mashed potatoes to be more in demand than a crispy garlic variety, you’ll be all the more prepared for next year.