Articles

Take a Fresh Look at Fresh Food

As a retail voyeur I often find it interesting listening to retail propaganda – in particular in the supermarket wars. I also consult in and study supermarket retail around the world. When you investigate it, most of the rhetoric comes from parties who want greater income for themselves – the sort of vested interest trying to look like unbiased, rational argument angle.

I happen to believe that businesses right to exist is directly attributable to their ability to add value to a customer’s life as the customer sees it.

No matter how you play it, in supermarkets as in most areas of retail, some things are just commodities for most customers. No matter how you try to dress it up, customers will buy commodity items in the cheapest and most convenient manner for themselves. This means – on commodity items in supermarket retail – the player with the cheapest prices and most easily and conveniently accessed stores wins.

But the fastest growing area of food retailing in the world isn’t in the commodity area. It is fresh food. More than that, it is differentiated fresh food. Whole Foods USA in organics. Fauchon France and Draegers USA in delicacies.

Thinking beyond what the customer sees as commodity and finding ways to differentiate your merchandise and service offer in a way the customer sees real value. Because unless they see value in what you offer you will not be able to over-power the pull that a Coles or Woolworths has in regard to basket price and convenience. To go out of their way to visit your store, the customer needs to perceive that there is sufficient reward to justify changing the way they do things now.

Item price won’t do it. Value adding will. And in food, that means appealing to customer segments that value taste, quality and service above price and convenience.

Unless you want to abdicate the food business to a two horse race, how are you going to grow your business by tapping into this international growth opportunity?