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Pairing up: Bundling beverages with food to drive sales

5 min read

Restaurant and Foodservice

Sarah Tabb, brand manager on the Coke brand team

This post is sponsored by Coca-Cola.

For today’s time-pressed consumers, convenience is king. In fact, 69% of consumers say that when shopping for groceries, they “just want to get in and out fast,” according to a 2013 Coca-Cola iSHOP survey.

Offering bundled product solutions based on sound shopper insights is one of the biggest opportunities for retailers to provide added convenience for shoppers while growing basket size. We talked to Sarah Tabb, brand manager on the Coca-Cola brand team, about how retailers can increase sales and profit by offering strategically bundled pairings of food and beverages.

What role does immediate consumption of food and beverages play in a large store environment?

First, it can serve as a traffic driver. Stores which offer a compelling immediate consumption food and beverage solution can pull more shoppers into the store outside of their typical shopping mission – driving more shopping occasions overall.

Second, the immediate consumption occasion can create impulse purchases; thereby growing overall basket size for shoppers who were coming in on a different trip mission. Nielsen data shows that stores with bundle offers and messaging for Coke with other products for immediate consumption had an 11% higher sales velocity compared with stores without such messaging.

What can a strong deli and beverage combination do for large stores, and how can Coca-Cola’s experience in foodservice benefit large-store retailers?

Supermarket fresh-prepared foods are on a hot growth trajectory, as more and more large retail stores want to provide solutions for both immediate consumption and take-home meal solutions. Total traffic in retail foodservice is up in the mid- single digits over the last five years and the trend is expected to continue.

Fresh prepared meal solutions in retail are in high demand with key shoppers, including both the all-important millennial shopper as well as the household category manager. These shoppers are looking for convenience, quick solutions, great value and delicious food.

For retailers, a strong deli beverage program can be a profit driver, a differentiator, and a traffic driver into the store, bringing in shoppers who might have gone elsewhere.

At Coca-Cola we have a vast wealth of knowledge from our foodservice business; for example, what pairings go well together, consumer and shopper insights, and how to best activate the marketing and messaging of the offer. The prepared foods or the meals-to-go area of the store is a natural place where we can provide proprietary insights and value to our customers.

What can innovative merchandising do for the large store?

It’s all about providing a solution. Shoppers today are asking that stores: One, save them time; two, save them money; and three, inspire them and give them ideas. Consumers today are spending time in the store, and at the same time they want inspiration.

Almost 60% of grocery trips are under 20 minutes, so when you’ve got a really quick and easy bundled solution that makes sense, that someone doesn’t have to seek out, it’s a no-brainer.  The key is to be disruptive – so shoppers will notice; engaging – so that they stop and take a second look; and relevant – the offer or solution must resonate with their lifestyle, habits, tastes and occasions. For an innovative merchandising solutions to work it must be rooted in a consumer and/or shopper insight, and must be relevant for a specific occasion.

In addition to the deli/meals area, where else in the store do retailers have an opportunity to increase sales and profit by pairing Coca-Cola beverages with other products?

Our internal studies show that when you co-merchandise Coca-Cola products with other areas of the store outside the beverage aisle — the bakery section, the meat section, the butcher area, the produce section, the frozen section — there is an incremental lift in sales of both Coca-Cola products as well as the products in those sections of the store.

We are rolling out more tools to activate nontraditional sections of the store with Coke and Food messages and solutions. We will have tools for produce, bakery, the butcher/meat section, the frozen food section, and various end-caps in the dry goods sections of the store. We are speaking to the shopper in a relevant way for whatever that occasion is, whatever that shopping mission is, and offering the packages and inspiration that will go best with that particular occasion.

How can retailers use product bundling to leverage Coca-Cola’s marketing partnerships with cultural events like sports and movies?

Almost all of Coke’s large pillar programs or big events have a food bundle partner component.  At Coke, we have standing partnerships with a variety of other food manufacturers across a number of categories to provide our shoppers with relevant, insight-driven solutions that work for a particular occasion – whether it’s watching the Big Game or an entertainment special across Coke’s many strategic properties.

Across the board we try to provide bundle tools that are insight-driven, but also very turnkey, so that retailers don’t have to build them themselves. We’ve already done all the consumer research and logistical legwork for a particular shopper program that is relevant to the event.

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