Progressive Grocer|November 2019
Every day is a holiday on some level. The big ones come in a regular rotation — soon it’ll be the Fourth of July, followed by Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and other winter holidays — but consumers mark special occasions on any given day, from birthdays to promotions to farewell parties, to name just a few.
Putting the “special” in special occasions generally means elevating the foods and beverages served at such gatherings. Retailers can attract shoppers looking for those items by providing and promoting gourmet offerings, including both packaged products and store-made or private label choices.
Opportunities are significant in this space. According to the recent “State of the Specialty Food Industry” report, from the New York-based Specialty Food Association (SFA), 36 percent of consumers say that they purchase specialty foods for a special occasion like a dinner party, birthday or holiday.
The profile of these gourmet shoppers underscores the potential of this part of a grocer’s business.
“Those numbers are true of both male and female consumers,” notes Denise Purcell, head of content for the SFA. “Baby Boomers and Gen Xers are the most likely consumers, age-wise, to buy these products for special occasions. Millennials and Gen Zs aren’t too far behind, but it seems to be a habit that increases with age and likely income to entertain.”
Many parts of the store can be a draw for occasion-minded, gourmet-seeking shoppers, meaning that basket lift can occur in several spots. In the perimeter, for instance, the in-store bakery, deli, prepared food area and produce section offers a variety of products for parties or gatherings of different scales and sizes. Meanwhile, in the center store, specialty foods can be merchandised for everyday consumption or for days that mean something more to a shopper.
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