You know I like to write about how consumers are shaping how business works, and here's the latest. Target, which recently announced it would double the number of sustainable products on its shelves, is shaking up placement of food brands on those shelves.
If you do any regular grocery shopping, you know that the big brands are almost always placed at eye level. In the cereal aisle, you might come eye to eye with Lucky the leprechaun — depending on how tall you are. If you want a generic brand or a healthier, organic cereal, you have to get on your tiptoes to reach it on the top shelf or bend way down to grab it from the bottom shelf.
It’s a “tried and true product placement gimmick,” according to Takepart, and its purpose is to create brand loyalty. If you always see the same product in the same place at the store, you’re more likely to purchase that product. Eye-level product placement can increase brand loyalty by 16 percent.
Target is changing the brands that will be at eye level. Healthier foods and organic brands will now occupy much of that coveted shelf space. Target CEO Brian Cornell broke the news to companies like Campbell’s, Kraft and General Mills earlier this year. Target isn’t eliminating foods like Chunky Soup, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese and Lucky Charms — it's just evicting them from that prime shelf real estate.
The change, said Cornell, “is being shaped around what consumers are looking for."
Of course, people will comment that this has nothing to do with Target caring about consumers. They’ll say it’s all about making money, and they’re probably right. Target is a for-profit company, and that’s what for-profit companies do. They make money.
That’s why I find this move on Target’s part so interesting and encouraging. Consumers have been told that if they want the food system to change they need to vote with their wallets — and they have done so. They’re spending more money on healthy and organic foods while spending less on junkier foods. Target realizes this and is making changes. Voting with our wallets is beginning to make a difference.
The major food companies can’t be happy about Target bumping their brands. Maybe this will get them to continue to make changes to these former eye-level foods. It has already starting. Kraft is removing artificial dyes from Original Macaroni & Cheese. General Mills took the GMOs out of Cheerios. Those changes don’t make either of those foods health foods, but they’re steps in the right direction.
Consumers need to keep voting with their wallets and to keep telling food companies what they want by writing letters, commenting on brands' social media pages and signing petitions. It’s working. We have a long way to go, but we're moving forward.
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