Retail Foodservice

World-Class Brands Revamp Deli

Photograph: Tyson Foods, Deli Division

What would happen if some of the most high-profile thought leaders from well-recognized brands such as Disney, Nike, Shinola, United Airlines, Second City and Farmer’s Fridge, shopped the deli department and provided their feedback on it? Would they find it well stocked with freshly prepared foods? Would they move quickly through the shopping queue, filling their carts with products and updating their shopping lists with inspirational ideas for meals built on prepared foods basics with other products from around the store? Or, would they report a mixed bag of experiences?

We invited brand experts outside of deli to look at our department through the lens of their profession. After having observed grocery delis in their respective home cities, they gathered for an innovative workshop in Chicago where they identified pain points along the customer journey from waiting in line to understanding choices, navigating the department, and maneuvering through the checkout process. The experts agreed with our findings in numerous proprietary studies, that deli does little to meet shoppers’ needs.

Then, we asked them to go beyond observation, and develop a set of innovative, sustainable, differentiated concepts for the supermarket deli that drive customer traffic, conversion, enjoyment and long-term purchase frequency, in order to maintain enduring relevance. We handed them the keys and asked how they’d do deli differently.

One might wonder if companies known for developing world-famous theme parks or athletic shoes could contribute anything relevant to the mission of a prepared foods department. But, these multinational corporations have strategic goals to provide satisfying customer experiences – and that sounds a lot like what we’ve been talking about. They are highly accomplished at attaining their goals, and their representatives were able to identify numerous opportunities for deli to become more consumer-focused, too.

What sets a world-class company apart from the rest is that they understand their customers’ needs can’t all be satisfied by a one-size-fits all solution. Customers have different missions when they enter our department, too. Some shoppers arrive at the deli knowing what they want, looking for a consistent experience and expecting deli to meet their core needs. Others want to explore and are looking for inspiration and education that helps build their confidence around occasions, meal planning or nutrition. Finally, there are those who want their shopping experience simplified – shoppers whose mission is centered on how much to buy. They are focused on size options and packaging for portion control. They prefer fewer options and appreciate “goes well with” themes.

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Our challenge is to recognize those distinct customer missions and develop solutions for each mission type. Our goal should be to ensure all shoppers have the experience they are seeking and that they will be proud to serve their families a satisfying meal featuring prepared foods from the deli with other ingredients from around the store. By making simple adjustments, the prepared foods department has a unique opportunity to offer an unparalleled experience to shoppers.

Find out more about the unique ways Tyson Deli is approaching prepared foods at

Sources: Tyson Foods, Unconventional Shopper Connections, 2017-18; Tyson Foods, On the Go Study, 2015; Tyson Foods Attitudes and Usage Study, 2015; Tyson Foods, Consequences of Failure, 2015, 2016; Tyson Foods, Prepared Foods Challenge, 2016; Tyson Foods, Vision Project, 2018.

This post is sponsored by Tyson Foods, Deli Division