May 2016: Spotlight on sauces and marinades
According to “Category Insight: Table Sauces and Seasonings,” a September 2015 report from global market researcher Mintel, North America’s mature sauces market is expected to struggle for growth for the next few years. One reason could be that consumers often consider shelf-stable sauces and marinades to be “processed” and “filled with unhealthy additives.” Retailers, therefore, will need to make an extra effort to attract consumers to store brand shelf-stable sauces and marinades.
One way they could put in that extra effort is through effective merchandising. To see what retailers are doing well and not so well in merchandising the shelf-stable sauces and marinades category we visited three retailers in New Jersey: a Wegmans Food Markets store in South Bridgewater, operated by Rochester, N.Y.-based Wegmans Food Markets Inc.; a Stop & Shop store in Raritan, operated by Ahold USA, Carlisle, Pa.; and a Kings store in Bedminster, operated by Parsippany, N.J.-based Kings Food Markets. Our visits took place on a late Monday afternoon in the middle of April.
Wegmans Food Markets
General observations: In the Wegmans store, shelf-stable sauces and marinades are merchandised within a few different aisles and under a variety of store brands, including Wegmans, Wegmans Organic, Wegmans Italian Classics Organic, Wegmans Food You Feel Good About and Wegmans Asian Classics.
We found store brand pasta sauce merchandised both in the organic section, which is in the center and at the front of the store, and at the back of the store in an aisle on the right-hand side of the store (when looking into the store from the front entrance). We counted about a dozen different SKUs of store brand pasta sauce in the traditional 24-ounce size. We also noticed two different styles of family-size packaging: three 24-ounce jars that were cellophane-wrapped together and two 45-ounce jars that were held together with a plastic connector. In this aisle, we also found one SKU of pizza sauce.
Two aisles to the right of the pasta sauce aisle was the ethnic Asian food aisle. Here, Wegmans offers private brand Tom Tom sauce, soy sauce and Asian-inspired sauces. The very next aisle to the right houses the marinades. In this aisle, we found more than a dozen traditional and organic store brand marinades, a steak sauce and a finishing sauce. Further down the aisle we found store brand hot sauces, wing sauces and barbecue sauces.
In general, the retailer places its sauces and marinades at about eye-level, and when offering more than one SKU, brand blocks the offerings.
We found foot traffic to be moderate within the aisles we visited.
■ Wegmans makes excellent use of free-standing displays. For instance, within the entry foyer, the retailer merchandised a giant display of store brand organic products for the upcoming summer grilling season. Most of the products displayed were condiments. However, the display also included a store brand barbecue sauce and a store brand teriyaki marinade.
■ The retailer also uses end caps very successfully. We found five different end caps merchandising only store brand sauces and marinades. We were particularly impressed with the placement of a store brand pasta sauce display at the end of the frozen pasta aisle.
■ Under its private brand family-size pasta sauces, the retailer placed large red shelf tags that said: “Wegmans Family Pack can save you 20% or more on this item compared to the regular size.”
■ The retailer used yellow shelf tags that read “Consistent low prices!” to draw attention to a sale it was having on its store brand marinades.
■ In some of the aisles, we saw a few out-of-stocks and some slightly disorganized shelves.
Stop & Shop
General observations: At the Stop & Shop store, the marinades are merchandised in the same aisle as the condiments and salad dressings. The aisle is just to the left of the center of the store (when looking into the store from the front entrance). The marinades are sold at the end of the aisle closest to the back of the store and under the Nature’s Promise Organic, World Menu and its unnamed national-brand-equivalent (NBE) brand, which features the Stop & Shop (Ahold USA) logo.
Just below eye level we saw an organic steakhouse marinade and an organic Sesame Teriyaki marinade, as well as basting sauce/ marinade combination products. We noticed NBE Worcestershire and steak sauces, wing sauces and hot sauces, as well as barbecue sauces, a cocktail sauce and a chili sauce in this aisle.
The pasta sauces are sold in a center aisle and at the front of the store near the cash registers under the NBE, World Menu and Nature’s Promise Organic brands in 24-ounce sizes. The store also sells two flavors of NBE family-size pasta sauce in 45-ounce bottles. And in the Asian aisle, located just to the right of the center of the store and near the cash registers, we found NBE Asian-inspired sauces and soy sauces.
Overall, most of the sauce and marinade aisles were well-stocked and neat; foot-traffic was light within the aisles we visited.
■ The value-tier marinades had blue shelf tags to draw attention to their “Low everyday price!”
■ The store used red shelf tags for many of its sauces and marinades to inform consumers they could save money if they used their loyalty card when making their purchase.
■ Stop & Shop used purple shelf tags that said “New” to draw attention to a variety of new store brand wing, barbecue and hot sauces.
■ Nature’s Promise pasta sauces are vertically brand-blocked, creating an easy-to-find visual of the brand and its products.
■ We found an end cap that was dedicated to store brand pasta products in multiple flavors.
■ We found an end cap that paired store brand dried pasta with a national brand pasta sauce instead of the store brand sauce.
■ We found multiple end caps featuring national brand sauces and marinades but no store brand products.
General observations: At the Kings store, the sauces and marinades aisle is located at the back of the store, behind the produce section and in front of the refrigerated meats on the far right-hand side of the store (when looking into the store from the front entrance), running horizontally across the width of the produce section. On the aisle shelves, we found only one private brand product: a Kings Peppercorn Steak Sauce. However, the retailer placed multiple store brand products on top of the open refrigerated meat case across from the sauce and marinade aisle.
The pasta sauce aisle is on the far left-hand side of the store and at the back of the store. We found four SKUs of store brand sauce.
Foot traffic was very light during our visit, and the store was neat and clean. The sauces and marinades aisles were well-stocked.
■ Under the store brand pasta sauce, the retailer placed brown shelf tags that read “Kings’ Own” on them.
■ We found an end cap featuring store brand oil and vinegar, both a store brand and national brand pasta sauce and a store brand pasta.
■ While placing the store brand sauces and marinades on top of the refrigerated meat case is good merchandising, not having any store brand sauces or marinades on the shelf in the sauce and marinade aisle could cost the retailer sales.
■ We had a hard time finding Kings brand pasta sauce. There were not many facings on the shelf, and the labels look so similar to the national brands that our eye easily passed over them.
■ At the front of the store, in an end cap placed right in front of the cash registers, was a giant Italian food display. It included olive oil, pasta, pasta sauce and vinegars, but the only store brand items were vinegars.
■ At the front of the store was a display of refrigerated meat with different sides for a quick dinner solution. While the retailer showcased store brand pasta in this display, it promoted national brand pasta sauce, olive oils and tomatoes.
Keep it clean
As mentioned at the outset, consumers are interested in less-processed foods.
“The trend is clean and simple,” says Vincent Barcelona, corporate chef and vice president, customer experience for Supreme Oil Co., Englewood, N.J. “It seems to have the biggest impact on consumers.”
Retailers could benefit from this trend by calling out the healthful attributes of their store brand sauces and marinades on product labels and shelf tags. Using terminology such as “free from additives” or “natural” could help retailers tap into consumer demand for less-processed products. And apparently, many companies are doing just that. For the 12 months ending August 2015, 18 percent of total new product launches globally carried a claim highlighting the exclusion of additives on the label, Mintel says.
“Keep packaging simple, clean and organic looking,” Barcelona adds. “Less is more in this category nowadays. Wholesome-looking packaging gives consumers the feeling they’re eating ‘clean’ or healthy.”
“Keep packaging simple, clean and organic-looking.”
— Vincent Barcelona, corporate chef and vice president, customer experience, Supreme Oil Co.