The plant-based category has been on a huge growth trajectory in recent years, currently worth £572 million growing 15% year-on-year1. However, whilst the category is flying, merchandising has not yet caught up, presenting a huge opportunity for retailers to further boost sales through clever merchandising techniques.

It has long been established that retailers should have a dedicated plant-based bay to drive discovery, however it is important for retailers to also consider where they are placing products in the bay. Previous research has shown that we understand images by focusing on the central point and then constructing a picture from the inside out, known as Centre Bias2. Applying this to a store environment means that shoppers position themselves to view bays from a central position, enabling them to look straight ahead rather than at an angle. When navigating stores, shoppers do so by bay. Merchandising in this way therefore mimics shopper behaviour.

It is this insight that drove Pilgrim’s Food Masters’ collaboration with Asda to revolutionise its chilled sausage fixture. The partnership saw Pilgrim’s Food Masters create a dedicated Richmond bay with products merchandised together, across Pork, Chicken and its new Toad in the Hole kits. Activated across 75 stores, the results were astounding, seeing a 10.1ppt unit and 4.5ppt value out-performance of the Richmond range when the bay was in situ vs total Asda Fresh Sausage.3

The success of the dedicated bay and the use of tier blocking within bays can be replicated in the plant-based fixture. The Richmond name has been instrumental to the success of its Meat-Free portfolio, due to perceptions around taste credentials and quality. As a result, the Richmond Meat-Free range has introduced new shoppers to the meat-free space, bringing a whopping 67% incremental spend to the category.4 Retailers can maximise sales within the plant-based fixture through brand blocking – grouping products together by brand rather than by product.

Not only does brand/tier blocking boost sales, but it also presents a unique opportunity to spotlight NPD, by placing new product launches in the centre of the bay. By blocking Richmond’s meat-free range together on-shelf, retailers can drive discovery of the full range. For example, by stocking Richmond Meat-Free Sausages, Bacon, Mince and Meatballs alongside one another, shoppers can easily see how they can make plant-based swaps of their favourite meals.

Speaking of the dedicated branded bay, Andrew Eastwood, Commercial Director at Pilgrim’s Food Masters said: “Asda challenged us with improving shopper navigation within the fresh sausage category, and with vertical tier blocking and our Richmond dedicated bay we think we have done just that. We know that trust in a brand is a key reason to purchase for shoppers and as the nation’s favourite sausage brand, we were confident that we could work with Asda to boost sales through clever merchandising. To do so, we needed to understand how consumers navigate the store and ensure that we are making the shopping experience as quick and easy as possible.”

“The plant-based category is going from strength to strength but there is still work to be done to continue to develop the category, merchandising approach and fixturisation. Moments such as Veganuary are key for retailers to attract new shoppers into the category and drive discovery of plant-based portfolios, but a strong merchandising approach will be key to success.”

Katie Ashley, Asda’s Sausage buyer says, “Asda & Pilgrim’s Food Masters were keen to put shoppers at the heart of our merchandising decisions and we really wanted to make it as easy as possible for them to navigate the Sausage fixture. We moved from a position where tiers/brands were merchandised horizontally across multiple bays to ensuring each brand or tier featured vertically within a bay. It was great to work collaboratively with Pilgrim’s Food Masters on this initiative, the fixture visually looks so much simpler and the results speak for themselves!”


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