Chains try to charm shoppers running mundane chores
We spend a lot of time in the grocery store. According to the Food Marketing Institute, Americans dropped a little more than $638 billion a year in the nation’s 37,716 supermarkets in 2014. Last year, we averaged 1.5 visits a week, with women making up the bulk, 70 percent, of people responsible for grocery shopping in multi-person households.
Now, according to analysts, grocers are getting creative, offering a number of inducements—including wine and cooking demonstrations—to shoppers. Expect to see these trends expand this year:
In-store entertainment. Large supermarkets are enticing customers with special events, including cooking demonstrations, more product sampling and nutritional tours. Friday is Food and Wine Friday at Giant Eagle’s Market District store in Solon, Ohio. Shoppers sample wines and hors d’oeuvres at serving stations around the store. As part of H-E-B stores’ Cooking Connectionprogram, cooking coaches prepare a variety of recipes each day. Shoppers can discuss recipes and healthy substitutions with the coaches.
Dine-in supermarkets. Many large supermarkets include a cafe with a light menu. Wegmans Market Cafe offers salads, sandwiches, sushi and pizza. Lunch-time shoppers at Mariano’s in Wheaton, Illinois, can grab a slice of pizza. Giant Eagle’s Market District in Strongsville, Ohio, has a full-size bar next to its cafe. And Starbucks is becoming a staple inside more supermarkets.
Supermarkets go digital. Retailers are connecting more with shoppers via their smartphones, especially millennials, who soon will account for most grocery purchases as they start families. Electronic Shelf Labels (ESLs), which display nutritional information, prices and ads, are currently being tested by Kroger and are expected to spread. Grocers such as Marsh Supermarkets and others have equipped stores with Bluetooth-enabled beacons to send coupons and product information to shoppers.
Smaller supermarkets. More grocers will open smaller markets to cater to the needs of small households, especially in growing urban areas. Ahold has opened the first of its 10,000-square-foot “bfresh” grocery stores in Boston. Iowa-based Hy-Vee operates Mainstreet, smaller local grocery stores, in several markets throughout the Midwest. And Hannaford opened a 20,000-square-foot fresh-food focused store near Portland, Maine.
Online shopping. Ordering groceries online has grown steadily over the last few years, and is expected to surge in 2016. H-E-B and Hy-Vee recently opened impressive online stores. Sixty-five retailers currently partner with Instacart, which lets consumers order groceries online and pairs them with personal shoppers who hand-pick items at customers’ favorite stores and deliver them. More retailers are expected to join that partnership. And more grocers will test curbside pickup of groceries ordered online.