Reinventing the dairy department is expected to be a focus among supermarket designers in order to draw more customers and sales.

Contractors and service techs who work on reach-in coolers and freezers in stores should be aware that there is talk in that sector about reinventing the dairy department. In fact, a third-party organization called the Innovation Center for U.S. Dairy has been formed by two major food providers - Dannon and Kraft - along with the Dairy Management Inc.™ (DMI) to encourage stores owners to invest in such an overhaul and show them how to do it.

“By leveraging the health and wellness attributes of dairy products, retailers can build loyalty and differentiation among high-value dairy shoppers,” according to research from the Innovation organization. “Building stronger connections to health and wellness drive a dairy department reinvention project.”

Scott Dissinger, senior vice president - sales and marketing for DMI, said, “Helping shoppers better understand the role dairy plays in living a healthier lifestyle for them and their families, and communicating consumer benefits within the department, will allow retailers to better connect with their shoppers.”

DMI manages a national dairy check off program on behalf of the nation’s dairy farmers and supports and staffs the Innovation Center. “Retailers have the opportunity to leverage dairy to strengthen their association with health and wellness, which will help them become a trusted source for all dairy-related health and wellness information, and help increase overall dairy sales.”

A three-year Dairy Department of the Future research project was spearheaded by DMI, the Dannon Co. and Kraft Foods. According to published reports, “The coalition’s comprehensive testing and research found that while shoppers have a basic understanding that dairy products are healthy, they aren’t getting the specific information they need about the specific health and wellness benefits or essential nutrients naturally found in dairy products in the store. To address this, the coalition produced a 24-page Dairy Department Reinvention Activation Guide. It offers retailers a how-to guide with activation tips and best practices for a successful reinvention project, which can increase unit sales by up to 3 percent and could grow dairy department sales by as much as $1 billion.”


While the mechanicals of creating cooling and freezing may not change all that much as far as the Innovation Center is concerned (as that is a function of equipment manufacturers), contractors could find themselves busy reconfiguring all that equipment to meet the new paradigms being proposed.

In its document, The Future of the Dairy Department is Now, it was said, “Shoppers generally perceive the dairy as ‘old fashioned, stale and boring,’ which is in dramatic contrast to the terms associated with produce, such as ‘modern, fresh, and stimulating.’ Refreshing the look and feel of the dairy department can enhance the shopping experience.”

Store decision makers were called upon to: “Contemporize the dairy environment so as to change shopper perception from old-fashioned to modern, relevant, fresh, and new.”

“Dimensionalize the dairy department in order to slow down the shopper by creating a three-dimensional space, complete with cross-merchandising vehicles.”

“Rationalize the dairy shopper experience and engage shoppers by bringing organization and clarity to the different segments within dairy.”

Dissinger said, “A reinvented dairy department is stimulating, fresh, modern, clean, and organized. Elevating communication about dairy’s role in supporting a healthier lifestyle and providing specific consumer benefits will strengthen a retailer’s storewide health and wellness proposition.”

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Publication date:09/06/2010