5 Trends that Grocers Should Watch
By Shari Steinbach, MS RDN, RDBA Contributing Editor
Rising food costs and consumer lifestyle changes have created disruptions in the industry and grocers must be focused on how to cater to customers now and in the future. In a recent report from FMI called “Future Outlook”, research insights and upcoming predictions were highlighted. Here are some of the key trends that retailers should watch:
Fragmented grocery spending. Omnichannel and hybrid shopping is predicted to remain a strong force and grocers will need to figure out how to best serve shoppers both in-store and online. Grocery spending is also fractured across different channels and by multiple methods. While traditional supermarkets remain attractive with their fresh categories, club stores have gained market share through their unique shopping experiences. Retail RDNs can help grocers by creating distinctive online health and meal planning features, as well as, creating educational shopping experiences in-store to help meet customer lifestyle needs.
Following different “food rules”. Consumers are now following personalized dietary approaches to shop for groceries. In the FMI report, almost half of surveyed shoppers follow one or more “approaches to eating,” with Low-Carb, Intermittent Fasting, Plant-Forward and Intuitive eating ranked as the most commonly followed. FMI observed that eating rules that require more discipline, such as Diary Fee, Paleo and Glycemic-Index all have seen steady declines.
Trading Up. Consumers are typically spending more on groceries and although this is partly due to rising costs, almost 20% are also buying higher quality products. These shoppers tend to be higher income consumers or parents. Examples of high quality products purchased include baby food, plant-based alternatives, meal kits, fresh prepared meals and fresh seafood and meat. It is predicted that these categories will sustain their sales even during inflation so plan to include them in wellness programming and promotions.
Speeding Up Meal Prep. While eating at home is favored, shoppers need meal inspiration on a daily basis. Only 30% plan meals a few days ahead, and almost 50% plan meals on the same day. In addition, meal preparation is becoming faster. This is an area where RDNs can use their expertise to drive sales with easy, quick and nourishing solutions. Promote assembly meals online and in-store with ingredients that can be put together in 30 minutes or less. Include a combination of fresh foods, value-added products, frozen and shelf stable items while highlighting both the healthy and budget-friendly benefits.
Generational Differences with Health Claims. Older shoppers continue to be more focused on ingredients to avoid, like salt or sugar, but younger shoppers are seeking positive inclusions and attributes to their foods. Claims such as Fair Trade, plant-based and allergen-free continue to rise, especially with these generations. This generational interest in specific health claims can assist RDNs with helping their companies determine how to position private brands along with creating targeted marketing tactics for specific customer demographics. While health claims are still important, it’s also interesting to note that shoppers are often looking for trusted brands, product stories and educational programming to assess how products may fit into a healthy dietary pattern.