January 10, 2019


Recently, a team of intrepid explorers, led by Brad Bennett, a channel marketing manager for Tyson Foods, Deli Division, set out to find innovative research and strategies that take deli out of the store and to the consumers. Brad chose six innovative and diverse food fests from around the country to see firsthand what retailers and suppliers are doing to connect shoppers with the food experiences they’ve been craving.1

The Food Quest explores unique opportunities that create lasting connections with shoppers, who have been telling us they really want more of a meal experience than that “thing in a box” we’ve been trying to sell them.

As we delved into some of America’s most unique and interesting food festivals, we affirmed that our research has been right all along.2 Purchase intent and store loyalty are driven much more by engaging shoppers on the meal experience itself than by trying to sell them on product selection and price cuts. In fact, the most important thing a retailer can do, in partnership with suppliers, is to educate and inspire shoppers. When we do that, consumers become more enthusiastic and proud about the food they serve to their families and friends.

We also saw how each festival successfully engaged shoppers to use our offerings to reach that end state they seek. By changing the conversation to focus on integrating prepared foods in cool and unique ways, both event organizers and suppliers generated genuine excitement and fostered brand loyalty.

Just by Changing the Conversation…

Would it be possible to achieve double-digit department sales increases only by changing how we talk about dinner? Here at Tyson Foods, we know that’s attainable, because we’re doing it.3 The food festival organizers, along with their grocery sponsors, understand this dynamic, too, because they took what they know best, whether a geographic region, ethnic palate or specific ingredient, and created exciting and memorable events that started new conversations and changed mindsets.

Take our 60-second Festival Tour

In this month’s Exclusive :60, hit the road with Tyson Foods to discover how food festivals are providing the road map to a better engagement experience with prepared foods shoppers.


The food festivals we visited were successful in leveraging these specific opportunities to connect with shoppers.


In conjunction with suppliers, make an emotional connection with consumers to deliver experiences they love through learning, tasting and entertaining.




Develop an innovative concept, fortified with community impact, an entertainment experience and, of course, fantastic food.


Get immersed in the experience, create a unique and authentic cultural vibe and opportunities for suppliers to showcase products and connect with consumers.


Take a go-to staple like fried or rotisserie chicken and provide unique ways to pair it for a satisfying and quick meal so shoppers will head back later for more deli goodness.


Create events both intimate and expansive, both consumer-facing and industry-fueled, to showcase a brand, launch a product, test a concept and tell a story.


As the millennial melting pot continues to shape the profile of American demographics, the nation's collective menu is following suit. Multi-ethnic foods and beverages are a $10.7 billion industry. Seek opportunities to incorporate and showcase them.


From Oregon’s Feast Portland, where the events were both intimate and expansive, down to the Fried Chicken Festival in Louisiana, which was a big old street party along the banks of the Mississippi, there was a lot of diversity in the experiences and food offered, but there was also one common connection that each of the festival organizers embraced. They used their best resources and strengths, in conjunction with familiar products and unique services, to engage consumers and instill brand loyalty. We’ll look at some specific examples of how they did that in next month’s brief.

1. Tyson Foods, Food Quest, 2018

2. Tyson Foods, Vision Project, 2018; Tyson Foods, Unconventional Shopper Connections, 2017-18; Tyson Foods, Emotional Trigger Study, 2017; Tyson Foods, Awareness, Trial, Repurchase, 2016; Tyson Foods, Prepared Foods Challenge, 2016; Tyson Foods, On the Go Study, 2015

3. Tyson Foods, Ahold Collaboration Program, 2017; Tyson Foods, Walmart Big Game Digital Program, 2017