It's that time once again where our own Phil Lempert takes a look into his crystal ball. Back in December of 1985 Phil wrote his first forecast in The Lempert Report to help retailers and brands understand the opportunities for the coming year; and since then his predictions have shared on television and in hundreds of publications including USA Today, Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Fortune as well as in Supermarket News.
SO sit back, take a read, and feel free to agree, build on and even disagree - and share your thoughts directly with him at Phil@SupermarketGuru.com.
1. Have it your way: Segmentation and personalization will continue to grow in importance. Shoppers want retailers to recognize and inspire them. Think about Lunds & Byerlys and Aldi, two grocers doing an excellent job of offering what their shoppers want, while Whole Foods has stumbled, adding things like chocolate fountains and sausage-making at some stores and getting away from its health food roots. The bottom line: For shoppers, “It’s more about me than ever before.”
2. Agnoticism: Shoppers are becoming more brand-agnostic, retailer-agnostic and even daytime-agnostic (you can now order salad for breakfast or an Egg McMuffin for dinner at McDonald’s). Brands like Hilton or Starwood know less about you than Expedia or Kayak. Because of online tools, some consumers don’t care which brands they book. This is the trend you should be most worried about, and the place where the retail RD can add a lot of value in personalization and connecting with shoppers on a deeper level.
3. Bioregions: “Local” is a huge selling point, and bioregions are adding a whole new layer. Nature defines the regions for what crops and livestock grow and thrive best in which climates, and we will see changes accordingly. Think about this: California farmers moving to Georgia because of the cost of water, and more wine coming from South Carolina. A recent study by A.T. Kearney found that women and children – are willing to pay more for locally produced food; keep this in mind when designing promotions, classes, and other events at your store.
4. Micro-stores: Far from the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink hypermarkets, look for more small, neighborhood grocers to spring up. These models, such as Bfresh in Boston, are relaxed, attentive and curated, with a heavy emphasis on local products. Kitchen, for instance, has 80 local beers on tap.
5. A new way of eating: This is the trend where the retail RD can truly shine! Health, wellness and sustainability are growing in importance. We will continue to see exploration in new kinds of proteins, such as nut flours, and even cricket flour in items such as protein bars. Global demand for fat will rise 43% by 2030 – “butter is back!” Also, look for an emphasis on “less is more” – fewer ingredients, more products “free from” hormones and the like (witness a major brand such as Kraft eliminating artificial colors in macaroni and cheese).
6. Evolution of the millennial generation: Millennials garner a lot of attention, and for good reason, given the size and buying power of the demographic. For food retailers, there is much to learn and understand. For example, nine out of 10 prepare dinner at home three or more times per week. Nearly three-fourths say they want to be a better cook, but they’re not following Betty Crocker recipes. They’re checking out Instagram photos for inspiration and then experimenting. Make sure your stores’ social media sites are being regularly updated; to inspire millennials to keep their meals both tasty and healthy.
7. A delivery shift: It already feels as though you can order any food at any time and have it delivered in a flash, and that trend will only increase. One major change is that people of all age groups are willing to pay for that service. Think about how you can engage with delivery at your store, whether it’s the dietitian’s picks for items or even healthy recipes that auto-populate a shopping list with ingredients. Shoppers are looking for inspiration, so work with your in-store chef for ideas.
8. Technology to the rescue: In every way, from supply chain to point-of-sale systems to loyalty and more, technology continues to affect the food retail industry, and there’s no chance of that stopping. But as so many technologies flood the market, some of them aren’t that great. Retailers should be certain they have accurate and relevant information on their websites and apps, so shoppers don’t have to go to other sources – some of them unreliable.
Overall the biggest takeaway for retail RDs is to continue to deepen the relationships with consumers. Because in the end, that’s all we have, and it’s everything!