It’s easy to overlook sales-growth opportunities in the dairy department. Most retailers recognize customers don’t linger in this section of the store. It’s cold, usually near the back and seen as an area to replenish planned purchases, not to make emotional shopping decisions. But new research conducted by Dairy Management, a Rosemont, Ill.-based research and dairy promotion organization, The Dannon Co. and Kraft Foods shows that taking another look at the dairy department is well worth the time.
After analyzing more than 340,000 shopping trips, 22,000 retail grocery audits and 2,500 consumer interviews, the coalition identified eight best practices to help maximize dairy department sales. Their research shows a dairy department reinvention can increase dollar sales by 1.6 percent and dairy unit sales by up to 3 percent.
Build stronger consumer connections
Minimize customers’ “get-in-and-get-out” approach by making your dairy an active area. Best practices include:
- Personalize the engagement by informing shoppers of the different uses for dairy products.
- Foster interaction and engagement by creating a three-dimensional dairy space with cross-merchandising vehicles, endcaps and coolers.
- Inspire shoppers by consistently updating educational messages about new items.
- Connect as a health and wellness resource by dividing cases or products into health-focused interest areas such as bone building or weight loss. This idea is particularly key because consumers cite health as the primary purchase driver when selecting dairy, and often seek additional information in the store.
Create a better shopping environment
Shoppers in the survey described the dairy department as “old fashioned,” “stale” and “boring.” Offering an area where shoppers don’t have to search for what they are looking for and a place they can take delight in, rather than dread, will create a more enjoyable experience. Here are a few ideas to consider:
- Establish a dairy department, not just another aisle, by creating an identifiable perimeter and developing a distinct environment for dairy. This is also an opportunity to update the department with a contemporary look and feel.
- Make the department easier to shop by expanding the space to eliminate congestion. A crowded aisle contributes to shoppers hurrying through the dairy section, which limits exposure to new products and non-routine purchases.
- Make merchandising more meaningful by segmenting the space into smaller, easily discernable shopping zones and creating solution-based interest areas.
- Convey stronger freshness cues by presenting an environment that is clean and cold—but not clinical. Modernized visual details can also help facilitate associations with health and wellness.
In test stores that implemented these ideas, dairy department traffic increased by as much as 3 percent while shopping time spent in the dairy department more than doubled.