October 18, 2018


Experts from a variety of high profile brands, including Disney, Nike, Levi's, Path to Purchase Institute, Stimulant, The Second City, Farmer's Fridge, Shinola, and United Airlines, gathered recently in Chicago for an innovative workshop to consider the foodservice retail experience through the lens of their profession.Tyson Foods invited these thought leaders to visit several grocery delis in their respective home cities to review new trends and traditional offerings. When they arrived in Chicago, they came armed with observations on what they had discovered. 

The mission for this group of visionaries was to develop a set of innovative, sustainable, differentiated concepts for the supermarket deli that drive customer traffic, conversion, enjoyment and long-term purchase frequency, in order to maintain enduring relevance.

We have also embarked on a Food Fest Quest to find innovative research and strategies that take deli out of the store and to the consumers. Join Brad Bennett, channel marketing manager for Tyson Foods, as he explores unique opportunities to create lasting connections with shoppers.

In Chicago, the experts toured two local grocery stores, an Asian fast casual restaurant, a Latin fusion restaurant and a restaurant/store combo offering locally sourced ready-to-eat meals in house and a monthly meal subscription service.

They also looked at industry research about prepared foods and discussed specific deli challenges. They brainstormed creative ways to overcome those challenges based on approaches other industry titans would take. For example, how would Disney approach long lines and what changes would Apple make to the store layout to enhance the customer experience?

When we asked for their feedback on deli’s challenges, opportunities and approaches from their unique perspectives, the visionaries, who are well known for their creative innovation skills, validated what we’ve been saying all along, that deli does little to meet shoppers’ needs.2,3,4,5 

The experts voiced key areas of concerns, which we’ll explore in this month’s Exclusive :60,along with their recommendations for change. Specifically, they thought the experience seemed overwhelming, even for regular grocery shoppers, and that prepared foods departments were unfocused on food quality or took little advantage of technology and branding opportunities. They also noticed numerous barriers along the path to purchase ranging from large product displays and hand-made signage to the deli counter itself, where staff was limited and often unavailable to assist. 

Solutions for Common Pain Points

This exercise provided a unique opportunity to see our department through the eyes of senior executives and innovative experts with a track record of visionary ideas, forging unique engagements and delivering creative solutions for their respective customers.1 

While many of their common observations aligned with previous Tyson Foods studies2,3,4,5 that found the value of shopping for prepared foods in a grocery store isn’t very clear, we wanted to know what the brand experts would do to change the conversation with shoppers, to make their interaction with our departments a more meaningful experience. We will be diving deeper into this topic over the next several Exclusive :60 briefings, but this month we focus on three key issues customers face at the deli, along with solutions that the experts suggest may generate a more positive impact on shopping behaviors, return visits and overall store sales.


1. Tyson Foods, Unconventional Shopper Connections, 2017-18
2. Tyson Foods, On the Go Study, 2015
3. Tyson Foods, Attitudes and Usage Study, 2015
4. Tyson Foods, Consequences of Failure, 2015, 2016
5. Tyson Foods, Prepared Foods Challenge, 2016