So, how can consumers tell if your retail food outlet is different than your competitors? How can you send a message and then reinforce that message in the-minds-eye-of the consumer so they will elect to come to your restaurants, c-store, or deli? Well, at Sprint Food Stores point of differentiation is just a little less common approach but it clearly is edifying its brand identity with consumers: it appeals to the nose and your sense of smell.
Sprint Food Stores partnered with Prolitec, a provider of ambient scent delivery systems, to launch a three-store pilot starting in 2017. After testing Prolitce product and finding a uniformly positive response, that drove new electricity into the brand and brand messaging, Sprint rolled out the program to all 30 of its Central Savannah River Area convenience stores.
The key to the program's success lies in how it affects customers' emotions in ways that colorful signage or a good two-for-one deal can't.
Johnson stated “that in my minds-eye the new electricity must be very efficient for the supply chain and includes such things as; corporate partnerships, fresh foods, smell, online ordering, delivery, self-driving cars, plant-based foods, music, sampling, toy’s, podcast, movies, cereal, developing brands, grocerant positioning, fresh food messaging, autonomous delivery, cashier-less retail, plates, glasses, cash-less payments, digital hand-held marketing.
All food and beverage retailers to survive the next generation of retail must embrace the artificial intelligence revolution while simultaneously embracing fresh food and beverages that are portable, fresh, with differentiation that is familiar not different and this fits that bill according to Johnson.
In a press release Prolitec stated, "Our sense of smell is the only [one] of our five senses tied directly to the emotional side of our brains, making scent a powerful way for businesses to form connections with their customers”.
Additionally, rolling the program out across the chain reinforces its place in Sprint's brand identity by providing continuity, ensuring that all customers have the same experience regardless of which store they visit.
The selection of a particular scent is the most important step in the process, before any in-store testing begins. Prolitec noted that another of its retail partners opted for a diffused coffee fragrance and reported a subsequent increase in in-store dwell time that led to a 5 percent boost in sales.
Prolitec's press release went on to say, "Fresh, welcoming scents can be more appropriate for brands with less focus on foodservice," … "This concept is what Sprint employs. Their fresh citrus brand scent greets shoppers right at the front door, encourages them to linger longer shopping, and reassures them the space is clean and safe.". Do you cook from scratch in your stores or do you assemble meals? What sent will your customer find in your store.
So, the diffusers themselves create "scent experiences" that are hypoallergenic, leave no residue, and neutralize unpleasant odors. Touchless technology enables remote monitoring and service.
After launching the ambient scent program, Sprint has received widespread positive feedback from customers, and store managers unanimously agree that the program adds to a positive in-store experience for customers.
Sprint Food Store Manager Michael Thomas stated "Customers say it smells good as they walk in,". Customer comments highlight the "fresh," "spring-like" and "amazing" store scent. Multiple store managers report that customers have even asked where they can purchase the scent for themselves.
The battle for share of stomach has never been more intense so if you are not working to differentiate yourself from competition both within and outside the industry, you just might have a problem. Are you ready for outside eyes for inside results?
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Battle for Share of Stomach