- Meijer will soon add Wahlburgers restaurant locations on the same lots as some of its new and existing stores, according to The Detroit News. The supercenter retailer did not specify timing, how many stores will eventually be built or whether it will be a Wahlburgers franchisee or not. It did note the rollout will begin in Michigan and Ohio.
- In addition to having restaurants near Meijer stores, Wahlburgers will bring food trucks featuring Wahlburgers’ most popular items to several Meijer locations. Wahlburgers, founded by actor Mark Wahlburg and his brothers, also recently partnered with Hy-Vee to build 26 stores across the Midwest, making the grocer the burger chain's largest franchisee.
- Meijer has also agreed to carry the Performance Inspired line of nutrition and lifestyle products, co-founded by Mark Wahlberg and health and wellness retail industry veteran Tom Dowd.
Meijer, the family-owned retailer with 235 supercenters across seven states, is taking its one-stop concept even further. Soon, customers can stock up on groceries, clothes and hardware at the store, then walk just a few steps beyond the store entrance and nosh on Wahlburgers’ Thanksgiving Day Sandwich, mac and cheese or chopped salad.
Retailers like Meijer want to poach customers from their competition, and the popular gourmet burger trend could be just the ticket. Research from Mintel found that one in ten consumers say they're willing to switch from a fast food burger joint to a more upscale offering like Wahlburgers. There are signs the burger craze could be starting to wane, though Wahlburgers does offer some healthier fare
Meijer isn’t the first grocer to partner with Wahlburgers. In September, Hy-Vee, the employee owned grocery chain with 246 stores in eight states, announced it would build and operate 26 Wahlburgers restaurants. That move is one of many Hy-Vee has undertaken recently to establish itself as not just a grocer, but a meal destination, too. The Midwest chain also operates more than 100 Market Grille restaurants attached to its supermarket locations.
While Meijer’s Wahlburgers restaurants will be adjacent to stores, grocers like Hy-Vee and Walmart have begun adding restaurants within their locations. Some, like a Starbucks or Pizza Hut inside Target, signal a place for a quick stop during the shopping trip. But others, like DeCicco & Sons or Whole Foods, have added bars offering brews and food in their stores, creating a destination in itself.
This all corresponds with current dining out trends. In 2015, for the first time, people in the U.S. spent more money dining out than buying groceries. The majority of millennials (54%) say they eat out three or more times a week.
So while a supercenter partnering with a burger joint may sound unusual, it does provide synergies that could benefit both entities. Some standalone casual dining chains, such as TGI Fridays, Ruby Tuesday and Applebee’s, have seen decreased sales. However, they did not have a partner like Meijer, with revenues of $16.6 billion, and the ability to provide cross-promotional marketing.
Will Meijer's new partnership sizzle or go stale? As the supercenter retailer battles pricing pressure, surging competitors and its longtime nemesis, Walmart, the answer to this question is more important now than ever, and certainly worth following.