One of the most frustrating and exciting parts of US retailer merchandising is their use of multiple store locations. In the UK we do this specifically for promotions. Products will appear on an aisle end and in their original location, and perhaps some items like a prepared salad or vegetable might even make it into a meal deal end slightly further afield in the store, but it is rarer that this is the case.
In the US products are routinely to be found in many places across the store. Obviously the ‘availability’ of space helps this but if non-grocery diminishes in floor space in the UK perhaps space will be less pressured. For example, fresh tomatoes are found nearer ‘food to go’ in the pizza dough fixture with the mozzarella cheese, and some topping options. Tomatoes would also be situated near avocados and a new pesto with a recipe idea in produce, and then in the ‘tomato’ section of conventional produce, the tomato section of organics, and in snacking.
This is not purely a produce phenomenon obviously. For example, prepared Mexican fajita vegetables (also in prepared vegetables) have a fridge with marinated meat strips (also in meat), fresh in-store prepared guacamole and salsa (also in prepared dips), sour cream, wraps – you get the idea.
Merchandising products together for usage and inspiration is done in the UK in prepared salads, where dressings, croutons etc are conveniently located or as an in-fixture deal in oriental vegetables with sauce and noodles. In the US there is no promotional advantage to buying these items together. It is simply done to ease or inspire the consumer’s buying experience.
As most of these meal solution fixtures are front of store, they largely benefit the time-short young professional couple who nip in after work for ‘something nice’ rather than the ‘stay at home mom’ who has the time to hunt out the ingredients, particularly as many of the stores have childcare.
The USA does a good job of sensible fixture placement too. They utilise freestanding baskets, put shelves against flat backs, use clip strips to excess. It is pretty much impossible to go in for just one thing and to not come out with seven related, unnecessary, yet exciting things you didn’t know you needed. It’s cunning, and infuriating.