Shelf stand-out – what can make the difference?


Growing demand for locally produced food and drink provides opportunities for convenience stores to attract new customers and increase spend – but what will make these products stand out on the shelf?

By Jim Eccleston

Ultimately, many food and drink purchasing decisions are made in the store when the products are on display in front of the consumer.  So, what drives these purchasing decisions beyond the obvious role of price?

We all know that environmental concerns and climate change are playing an increasingly important role: stores which offer plastic-free fruit and vegetables and paper bags instead of plastic stand to benefit: our survey of Scots consumers conducted last year showed that 66% will choose products which are plastic-free and recyclable.  And it goes beyond recyclable packaging – if retailers let their customers know about their own sustainable practices and waste reduction, they will see benefits, with 65% saying they would be more likely to shop in this type of store.

And of course, linked to sustainability is provenance – knowing where your food and drink comes from and how it is produced is increasingly important.  Our recent survey showed that 61% of Scots factor this in as part of their buying decision.

This is often where telling the story of the product and the brand can be extremely effective – either by the producer on the packaging/label itself, or by the retailer as a special display.

Storytelling appeals greatly to the consumer – and can often make the difference between buying a product with an interesting back story that links to the area as opposed to one of the more established brands.  The notion of local stores working in partnership with local producers has massive consumer appeal.

For producers, obviously the labelling/packaging plays an important role in selling the product. As well as reassuring consumers on factors such as sustainability and provenance, other elements of the labelling and package design can make a difference in consumers’ product choices:

  • The ingredients being displayed very clearly on the label or packaging is probably the most important factor of all (70%);
  • The overall design and the degree of ‘stand out’ of the product and label design should never be underestimated – 45% of Scots saying this is an important element of their product purchase choice;
  • Accreditations and awards also play a role in attracting consumers.

And, as retailers, where some of these elements are perhaps not to the fore, you should feed back to the producers with your own thoughts on how some small changes could improve sales. Convenience store managers are at the sharp end and see and hear what their customers are looking for; local producers will welcome your input.

In short, local retailers working closely with local producers to optimise the shelf stand out of products is a ‘win-win’ for everybody – not least your customers, who will be more tempted to buy some great local products that might otherwise pass them by.

Jim Eccleston is Managing Partner of Edinburgh-based research and insight specialists 56 Degree Insight, the official research partners of the Scottish Retail Food & Drink Awards.