Check It Out: The New Grocery Shopping Experience

When it comes to food, today’s consumer wants it when they want it, how they want it and where they want it. No apology, no excuse…it is what it is. This “have it your way” mentality is across all demographics and food channels, cultivated by fast-paced, busy, commuter laden lifestyles, increasing work and societal demands, and of course, technology. Read on for a quick rundown of consumer-centric grocery shopping trends—they’re driven by health, technology dependence, and personalizing while expanding the consumer shopping experience.

Forget the Material World; It’s a Digital World

Next time you’re out and about, stop and take a minute to look around—it seems everywhere you go, everybody’s head is tilted downward, gazing a palm-sized screen which is either giving them directions, communicating with a loved one or buying dinner or even a car. This dependence on technology has trickled into the grocery arena where national chains and local grocers are stepping up their digital game to compete.

  • Amazon GO was introduced in 2016, and if you haven’t heard about it, you can learn more here. While walking into a grocery store, plucking items off a shelf, putting them in a bag and leaving without standing in line might feel a little like stealing, we feel pretty confident that if anyone can convince consumers it’s safe to do, it’ll be Amazon.
  • Other cool techy practices on the horizon are beacons that stores will plant in signage and shelves that are Bluetooth enabled and send customer coupons directly to their phones while in the store.
  • Super-giant retailer, Kroger has been testing smart shelf technology with digitized price labels that interact with mobile shopping lists, helps the store manage inventory and eventually will share product ingredient information, promos and more. Let’s face it: the smartphone is the new consumer wallet and keeping track of it is more important than ever.
  • An average of 25% of consumers shopped for some groceries online in 2016, and the market is expected to grow to $100 billion by 2025, representing a staggering 20% of all food and beverage sales.1 Whether shopping for staples like paper goods and drugstore items or last minute recipe needs, consumers will broaden their online shopping habits forcing brick and mortar stores to compete with online services and even themselves as they opt to offer delivery, shipping and more to stay ahead of the competition.

Let’s Talk About Health

More than ever, consumers are focused on healthy eating to maximize their quality of life without sacrificing good taste and convenience. The industry is responding in creative ways to meet consumer health and lifestyle goals:

  • The meal kit exploded onto the scene with Blue Apron, Hello Fresh and others bringing prepped ingredients direct to consumer front doors. Grocery retailers are creating their own in-store versions, prepped and ready to go. Giant Foods, Whole Foods’, Publix, Coburn and Target are getting in on the action, offering fresh meal kits with some specializing in vegan and organic. There’s even a locavore offering online: Washington state web-based farmers market, ACME+Kitchen sells small and large locavore boxes loaded with locally sourced produce and artisan goods to make either 3 or 4 meals and recipes.
  • Transparency in labeling has certainly been a hot button for consumers wanting as much information as possible on the ingredients in the foods they purchase. Enter SmartLabelTM, a digital label that provides nutritional information, ingredient list and sourcing certifications all in the name of transparency. Look for the initiative to offer an app making it easier for consumers to access this information through their phones.

Meet Them Where They Are: Cultivate Loyalty Through Personal Experience

  • Order online, schedule your pick up time and drive up to get fresh, competitively priced groceries loaded in your car? Yes, if Amazon has anything to say about it. The online giant is rumored to be enhancing its AmazonFresh offering with a “click and collect sites”, starting in California and Seattle. Some Walmart locations are doing this as well.
  • Redefining the act of grocery shopping is being explored as grocers create interactive experiences and solutions like dinner party planning, school lunch center or an indoor farmer’s market instead. Retailers like Whole Foods and Chicago-based Mariano’s are on this track with their in-store sushi and sake events or Italian coffee shops complete with consumer education and inspiration. The stores are the event and shopping is the experience.
  • Kroger has taken customer analytics to a whole new level, using its Plus Card loyalty program to track consumer product preferences, predict products they might buy and then give corresponding digital coupons.
  • Walmart is leading the pack on social media interaction with 33 million Facebook fans and counting – more than any other brand in the U.S. including Amazon and Target. Count on other grocers to look to get a piece of the social media pie and grow some customer loyalty.
  • Value-driven Aldi recently announced its expanded commitment to organic and is also remodeling stores while keeping its prices low. Look for this retailer to capture a nice portion of the $45 billions spent on organic food each year.2

Check out our recent blog posts on meal kits, matcha and be sure to follow us on LinkedIn for new Nikken products and industry news.