Editor's Message

Editor’s Message - March 2009

It just so happened that this year’s arrival of spring occurred on March 20, just as HPBExpo was in full gear. As I walked through the outdoor burn area, I couldn’t help but notice the tantalizing aroma of tri-tip and pulled pork wafting from exhibitor booths. This encouraged me to throw my own backyard barbecue party. Since I live in Southern California, I knew that picking a date for this event would not be difficult, because just about every day of the year feels like spring.

Then I remembered an interesting conversation I had with my husband, who was in Edmonton, Alberta, in mid-March on business (ironically, just down the street from the retailer Barbecue Country, which is featured on page 24). While he was on his trip, he was invited to a colleague’s home in Edmonton on a day when the temperature dropped to a incomprehensible -25 degrees Fahrenheit. He was shocked when the host put on his parka and boots to go outdoors to grill a steak for dinner.

I was equally surprised to hear this, because in my mind, subzero temperatures and outdoor grilling just don’t go together. We Southern Californians think that when temperatures dip to the low 60s, it’s time for chili or stew, rather than barbecued chicken or grilled salmon.

All of this just proves that any time of the year—in any location—is the right time for a barbecue. Last year, NPD Group, a leading market-research company, reported that significant growth in year-round grilling has occurred in recent years due to increased ownership of gas grills.

The current economic downturn, which has caused many North Americans to forgo restaurant dining in favor of outdoor home dining, should bring even greater expansion to this market. Retailers who enthusiastically promote this message will end up with a steady stream of customers coming through their doors, year round-whether they’re located in Edmonton, Alberta, or Tampa, Fla.

This is the perfect time of year to develop promotional strategies that will increase store traffic, now and throughout the year. Every retailer should take advantage of the fact that May is National Barbecue Month, and that peak selling times such as Memorial Day, graduations, and Independence Day are just around the corner.

There are many different ways that you can use National Barbecue Month to your advantage. The point is to generate excitement within your store and through advertising messages. Consider hanging a huge banner outside your store inviting customers to come in and celebrate National Barbecue Month with you. Hold weekend demos outside the store throughout May.

In many cases, tasting the food is exactly what is needed to remind customers that they should consider replacing their old gas or charcoal grills with a new stainless-steel grill with infrared technology. Hold a cooking class with a recognized chef or competition cook who has won barbecue championships. Consider having a radio station broadcast live from your store on a weekend in May.

When you conduct these types of activities, you’ll find that customers love everything associated with barbecue—whether it’s the taste and smell of the food; the camaraderie that comes from having friends and family gather for a backyard barbecue; or the money saved by eating at home, compared with eating at a restaurant. Be creative and deliver two messages: May is National Barbecue Month, and outdoor grilling is possible all year round. This type of promotion is guaranteed to fire up your sales.

Carol Daus


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