Interactive approach brings seafood home

When you need to get a message across, stories have awesome power. Chip Heath, co-author of the book “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Succeed and Others Die,” asked students in a class he taught at Stanford University to give one-minute speeches using different sets of statistics about crime patterns. Afterward, when he asked students to recall their classmates’ speeches, they had forgotten almost everything they heard.

But they remembered the stories. While only 5 percent of students remembered any individual statistic, 63 percent were able to retell stories they heard during presentations.  

The sticking power of stories is good news for the seafood department, because it contains more stories than anyplace else in the grocery store. Sophisticated and interactive point-of-sale (POS) materials are helping retailers share those stories to educate their customers about seafood.

Copper River salmon is the big story at AJ’s Fine Foods, an upscale grocery chain of 13 stores in Arizona. As the May opener approaches, the excitement starts before the first fish is even out of the water.

“We actually call it our countdown to Copper River salmon season, which in our opinion is the most famous king salmon season there is,” says Pat Lee, director of meat, seafood and sushi for AJ’s and other stores under the Bashas’ umbrella, including 53 Bashas’ and 50 Food City stores. “As it’s caught and flown and in to Seattle we’ll send pictures of that and educational material to our members.”

Throughout the season, AJ’s customers receive updates in the store and on the Web like daily weather reports from the six rivers that supply sockeye. They understand issues like escapement and know that a certain number of salmon need to return to their spawning grounds before non-subsistence fishermen are allowed to start catching them.

“Our customers are a little bit different. They do care about quality and they like to be educated when it comes to [their seafood’s] origins,” says Lee.

To do that he works with the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, which offers an abundance of POS materials. At AJ’s, signage begins at the front of the store with window displays advertising the catch of the week. In the seafood department, Lee says they’ve had success using 2-by-3-foot stanchion signs to highlight four or five species at a time.

Click here to read the full story, which ran in the September issue of SeaFood Business >


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