February 19, 2019

Every supplier makes stuff that they put in box and ship on trucks. Every retailer buys boxes of stuff that they unpack and make available for their shoppers to purchase. Every shopper buys stuff because...that's what they're usually offered.

Take our favorite part of the store—prepared foods. The number one single SKU? Rotisserie chicken. We sell rotisserie chicken. Retailers sell rotisserie chicken. But, no one wants to buy rotisserie chicken. What people are looking for is dinner. But that's not what they are being offered. Rotisserie chicken for $x.99! Larger rotisserie chicken! Rotisserie chicken with no antibiotics! Or whatever other prepared food you would like to substitute. All of these claims, but not ONE of them meets the shopper where they are.

Why do shoppers purchase rotisserie chicken, or any other prepared food? Because they feel they will be proud to serve it—because it looks like it will taste good. Price claim? Nope. Size claim? Nope. Nutritional claim? Nope. I just want something that's easy for dinner tonight that I can feel good about serving to my family.1, 2, 4

We're not selling the thing-in-a-box. We're collaborating with the shopper on a very deep need: the need to provide for one's loved ones. Loyalty is not based on a functional benefit alone—it is based on an emotional connection. We all want to sell more prepared foods, but the path to that end is not achieved by pushing the thing-in-a-box. It's achieved by meeting a deep need of a shopper and building an emotional connection with them.

In a recent experiment 4 with a number of families and their use of prepared foods, all participants found that the experience of using prepared foods changed the way they spent time together as a family—and it increased the quality of that time. There are so many facts that show that children who grow up in a household that eats dinner together regularly (not every day, but with some consistency) are better equipped to go into the world with confidence—achieving higher grades and better performance in extra-curricular activities.

Why can't we be "pro-dinner?" Why can't we start from the premise that we are on a larger mission to help families be great places for kids to grow up instead of trying to fill a shopping cart? What if the shopping cart gets full when we think of this higher purpose?

The good of something is determined by the use to which it is put. Prepared foods has the potential to be GREAT stuff.