- Stop & Shop is partnering with author Lisa Lillien, creator of the popular "Hungry Girl" brand, on a food truck tour to 200 store locations throughout New England, according to a company release. The “Savvy Shoppers” truck tour began in Hartford, Connecticut on May 22 and will continue through October.
- The food events will feature product samples, coupons and shopping guides with tips for healthy snacks and meals.
- Lillien, who has three million daily email subscribers and social media followers, will make appearances at some tour locations. Her recipes will also be featured in upcoming issues of Stop & Shop’s Savory magazine.
Lisa Lillien has built a considerable fan base though her Hungry Girl brand, which is focused on providing readers with healthy and easy recipes and food tips. In addition to her daily email and social media presence, she also hosts a popular podcast, appears regularly on national television and has written a successful book series.
Celebrity endorsements aren't new in the world of grocery and restaurant advertising. Papa John's just brought on Shaquille O'Neal to its board, and he will serve as a brand ambasador. Patricia Heaton was Albertsons' national spokesperson back in 2003 and Alec Baldwin pitched for Wegmans briefly. Hy-Vee, which is known for securing celebrity endorsements, recently signed up Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Although Lillien isn't a Hollywood celebrity, she is an influencer with a large and devoted fan base.
With grocery stores competing more in the foodservice space of late, it's a logical next step to begin using food trucks, a mainstay for the restaurant industry. Bigger restaurant brands, including Auntie Anne's and Shake Shack, have found success taking food trucks on the road, providing an additional avenue to market their products and expand their off-premise capabilities.
By partnering with Hungry Girl, Stop & Shop is tapping into Lillien's engaged audience, who are looking for fast, fresh and healthy recipes. The food truck door will bring those concepts to consumers along with recipes that feature ingredients that can be purchased at Stop & Shop. If Lillien’s fans can’t make it to the tour, the grocer will still be able to reach that audience through cross promotion on Hungry Girl social media and other platforms.
Stop & Shop is one of many grocers stepping up their efforts to provide culinary inspiration and recipes to shoppers. ShopRite recently partnered with tech firm Chicory on a shoppable recipe program where customers put ingredients into their virtual cart online. Target also partnered with Cooklist, which lets people search recipes, build shopping lists and set up delivery.
Creating excitement around its brand, helping customers find meals that fit their lifestyle and appealing to a “Hungry” demographic could help Stop & Shop boost its image and keep shoppers coming into its stores and utilizing its online platform. It also continues to blur the line between grocery and restaurant, as retailers compete with eateries for more dining dollars.