There is no debate that the market for vegan food has surpassed the limited shelf space inside of specialty food stores and has now expanded into some of the largest food retailers in existence. Just one look at the frozen section of your local grocery store, and you are bound to see dairy-free milks, yogurts, ice creams, and of course, meat alternatives of all types. Although many of these products have made it onto the shelves of Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s due to their sheer popularity, there are still several smaller chains that stock very few, if any, vegan items.
So, what is a person who is trying to keep meat and dairy out of their routine to do? Well, as with many things in life, sometimes if you want something done, you’ve got to do it yourself! No, we’re not suggesting you start planting vegan products all over the store without asking, but there are certain steps you can take to nudge your store of choice in the right direction. Here are four ways you can influence your market’s product selection!
1. Let the Supermarket Know You Exist!
There are a number of ways you can go about this. Bigger supermarket chains, like Whole Foods, usually have a page for each of the departments within the store, with a contact form that you can use to get in touch with the manager. If you decide to go this route, make sure you are very clear with the names of the products you desire and indicate that you are a regular shopper who would purchase these items frequently.
If you want to go for a more vocal route, but are somewhat hesitant about talking to the manager in person, social media is another way you can let your requests be known. Tagging the supermarket you shop at, as well as the brand you desire, allows for the head of the supermarket’s social media to scope out the company on their own. They’ll see the positive feedback consumers leave on the company’s page (and how delicious the food looks) and will likely be more swayed than if they were to simply see the name of the product on paper. Let your friends and family know that you’re reaching out, that way they can also comment on the thread. It’s harder to say no to a possé!
2. Seek out the Person in Charge of Purchasing Product
Unlike a contact form, speaking to a manager in person ensures you won’t be waiting for days, weeks, or months, for a response. Once again, let them know that you are a frequent shopper and maybe even throw in that you are not the only person who would enjoy these products! Even if you may not necessarily know anyone else who’s deciding to cut down on their meat and dairy consumption, this statement is still true. Consumers, in general, are seeking wholesome alternatives to meat and dairy, a fact you are simply relaying.
And don’t give up easily! Even if the manager of one store doesn’t make it happen, go to another location of the same store. In most cases, each manager and department head gets a voice in deciding what product they carry. Plus, if the managers of different stores happen to talk, they’ll quickly find out it hasn’t been a one-time request. They might not even realize it’s the same person!
3. Contact the Manufacturer
Sometimes you’re better off approaching the situation from the manufacturer side. After all, these folks want their product on the shelves as much as you do, if not more! Let them know where you shop, what you’d like, and how much of a fan you are of their product and you’d be surprised at how many companies are up for making your shopping dreams come true. Plus, the manufacturer can offer free samples to the store to let the manager see if it would be a good fit.
4. If You do Succeed, Let Other People Know!
You did it! You asked the Grocery Gods (or managers) for more vegan goodies, and they have answered your prayers, err.. requests. Well, besides doing a happy dance, you should consider sharing your success with others to make sure this victory isn’t short-lived. So, share the news on your social media! Post a picture on Instagram, share a status on Facebook, or make your triumph known via tweet! Not only will your local store feel appreciated, but any followers you have that were also looking for that product will know exactly where to get it, and more importantly buy it! After all, if no one ends up buying the product besides you, they may discontinue it, so don’t let your victory be in vain! A little casual campaigning can go a long way.
So, next time you’re strolling through the aisles of your local supermarket, perhaps feeling discouraged at the lack of options for your dietary preference, know that there are concrete actions you can take in changing the landscape of your store. Be the change you wish to see in the world (or supermarket).
Image Source: Dylan_Payne/Flickr