In its recent “In-Store Display Merchandising Trends in the Grocery Channel” report, the research market firm details the state of the display merchandising landscape and looks ahead to strategies needed to meet the challenges of the new reality.
The new display reality
As the pandemic set in, grocery retailers reformatted the shopping experience to create more space and accommodate social distancing in store. The first casualties: perimeter merchandising displays, save for pandemic-related display activity for products such as soaps and home health care supplies.
“Manufacturers focused on production and scaled back on merchandising and promotional strategies,” the report put forth. “Why promote what you can’t guarantee will be on the shelves, especially at a time when shoppers didn’t need incentives to make a purchase?”
According to IRI, “while the pandemic accelerated the loss of in-store displays, there’s been a gradual decline in displays since 2017”, with the grocery channel losing ten displays per store over the past five years.
While overall display levels remain below pre-pandemic levels, with general food losing the most displays compared to 2019, some edible departments have recovered including salty snacks, energy drinks, premixed cocktails and beer. Categories including bars and cookies have lost more than a full display, and the decline in displays continues for health and beauty products.
“The perimeter/racetrack – or store loop – has lost 13 displays on average compared to pre-pandemic,” the report noted. “Candy, cookies and crackers were the most likely to lose display presence.”
Syncing strategies to maximize lift
Moving forward, IRI says that retailers and manufacturers will have to work together to address space shrinkage and drive more incremental opportunity via displays “by aligning the metrics that matter across product mix, size, location and number with this new display reality.”
Things to keep in mind while strategizing: “Merchandising strategies that worked during stock-up periods aren’t as effective with shoppers who are increasingly making quick trips” and “ensuring off-shelf merchandising efforts are in sync with weekly feature ad support”.
The report also highlights that increasing inflation has shoppers looking for deals but that few are finding them. IRI advises that temporary price reduction and feature items remain important but recommends continuing to promote higher merchandising lift by coordinating display and features.
In addition, manufacturers could explore opportunities to increase variety on display post-pandemic while retailers focus on driving productivity of remaining display locations and space, particularly for feature items, said IRI.