- Publix Super Markets will premiere its first free online cooking class on YouTube on January 12 at 6 p.m. Eastern time. Additional classes, which are offered as part of the retailer's Aprons Cooking School program, will air on February 9 and March 9.
- The first episode, “Get Cooking in the New Year,” will cover various ways to prepare meals with a deli roasted chicken. February’s episode, “Date Night,” will teach viewers a few romantic recipes and March’s “Fill It, Stuff It, Roll It” will focus on appetizers from around the globe.
- The classes, taught by Publix Aprons Cooking School chefs, encourage viewer participation through live chats and by distributing the recipes in advance..
Retailers like Publix are turning to events and classes to build a greater bond with their customers. In-store cooking classes, demonstrations and wine tastings are popping up in aisles around the country. Publix’ move to bring the store into consumer’s home is just another way to meet the needs and habits of today’s evolving shoppers.
Publix already has an in-person cooking school called Aprons, which is marketed as an entertaining night out for friends or couples of all cooking levels. But for busy people looking for a few simple recipes, attending a class can be a time commitment. If the class can come to them, in the comfort of their own home, where they might be inclined to start jotting down a shopping list.
These classes follow a general education trend. The number of all post-secondary students who took at least some of their courses online grew by more than 5.7% from 2016 to 2017, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Companies in many diverse industries, from fitness to higher education, are implementing online models that allow their students flexibility and convenience.
By offering the classes online for free, Publix will be able to reach consumers who want the education but can’t make it in person. The nature of the internet also means the company can reach customers outside of the Southeastern U.S. where its stores are based. If the company can build a fan base in other areas, itt could also build a roadmap for store expansions.
Driving awareness with new customers, however, could prove a challenge for Publix. With so many online cooking resources out there, it seems the new program will mainly appeal to dedicated Aprons shoppers. Not that there's anything wrong with that, since the unique culinary program has proven very popular and drives engagement with valuable customers.
Publix is not the first major retailer to offer cooking classes – Whole Foods, Tops and Schnucks are just a few that have also offered courses – but online education is still new territory. Stores are embracing the interactivity of online while tapping into the consumer desire for customization and personalization. In addition to offering a valuable service that will ideally drive in-store sales, the classes could help Publix reach the next generation of shoppers.