June 23, 2018


Positioning Deli to Reunite Shoppers with Chicken

"Shortcomings?" we asked. "You bet," said participants of Tyson Foods' Unconventional Shopper Connections experiment1(USC), who admitted they've "lost that loving feeling" with chicken.

Although confessing they have positive memories from childhood family dinners, often recalling delicious recipes featuring chicken, they further disclosed they've been lured away to other proteins, citing issues with the appearance of raw chicken, the quality of frozen chicken and the cost of purchasing "healthy" poultry products. The participants even wrote amusing "break up" letters showing their angst over parting ways with chicken. But, on a deeper level, their words demonstrate the conflicting emotions they feel over abandoning their favorite comfort food.

Break Up Letters to Chicken

How Prepared Chicken Can Mend the Broken Hearted

It's important to understand there are two underlying issues that have separated shoppers from their love for chicken.


1. Most of the problems shoppers have are with raw or frozen chicken.

2. Most of the shoppers who have this problem are under the age of 40.


Tyson Foods research confirms these conclusions. One studythat focused on millennial shoppers (ages 18-34) showed they tend to have more discretionary income for the impulse purchases. They also seek foods that satisfy immediate needs, instead of making purchases that require major planning or prep work. Seems they want "farm to table" freshness but are disconnected from being part of the process that puts the food onto their plates.

In another study3, shoppers failed to prepare a satisfying meal using prepared foods without making a meal plan. But, after they were shown easy tips for planning and preparing convenient recipes using prepared foods with SKUs from around the store, they created easy meals they were proud to serve to their families.

Fortunately, retail has the opportunity to put chicken in a new light by educating consumers to choose prepared chicken from their grocer's deli department for both meals and snacks. Using prepared chicken in recipes can help reduce anguish over handling raw products, which is much of the negative feedback from our USC participants, and is a time-saver during dinner prep. It is also a versatile protein that comes in a variety of options, making it well suited for snacks, grab-and-go breakfasts and quick bites. Check out this month's Exclusive :60 for more on that.

Therefore, there is a pathway for deli to reunite shoppers with chicken and it exists primarily because prepared chicken eliminates the "gross" factor of dealing with raw and frozen products. But beyond that, our goal should be to educate and inspire shoppers during pre-shop to use prepared chicken in their favorite recipes as well as in new dishes that are easy to create and satisfying to serve. Additionally, when products are executed so they are hot and fresh during peak shopping hours, this is a powerful enticement for the senses and a strong incentive to help shoppers keep their love for chicken alive. Check out this month's Exclusive :60 for specific "how to" tips.


1 Tyson Foods, Unconventional Shopper Connections, 2017-18
2 Tyson Foods, Prepared Foods ATR Study, 2010. 2011, 2014
3 Tyson Foods, Prepared Foods Challenge, June 2016