What We're Talking About

New marketing strategies needed for today’s shopper

BY: Tim Linden | DATE: September 03, 2015

Today's grocery shopper is much different than ever before, which means new marketing strategies are needed to reach this consumer.

That is the common theme running through the latest Grocery Shopping Trend Survey conducted by the Food Marketing Institute. In a webinar detailing the study in August, FMI Senior Vice President Susan Borra said a generation ago it was easy for retailers and product marketers to reach a majority of grocery shoppers. All they needed to do was to target moms and they would reach half the households and even a greater percentage of consumers.

Today, households composed of children under 18 represent just 28 percent of all homes, which is the exact same percentage of single-member households.

And even reaching the traditional home makeup has become more complicated, because there has been "a paradigm shift" in the roles assumed by husbands and wives, Borra said.

In fact, 50 percent of men claim they have a primary role in shopping, with even more women saying the same thing. The oddity of that statistic is that when you extrapolate the numbers, 203 million people in a country of only 123 million households claim they are the "primary" shopper for their family.

Laurie Demeritt, chief executive officer of The Hartmann Group, who was a co-presenter during the webinar with FMI's Borra, indicated that it is not false bravado that leads to this inflated number. Instead, it is that different members of the family bring their own interpretation to what constitutes the primary shopper. Is it the preparer of the list, the preparer of the meal or the person primarily responsible for doing the shopping?

And the concept is further complicated when household members share the responsibility for both cooking and shopping. Some people delineate themselves as secondary shoppers, but often - as the numbers indicate - both participants consider themselves the primary shopper.

If it is hard to determine who is making the buying decision, it is difficult to target market. Yet Demeritt said it is very important for retailers and marketers to understand who the buyer is.

Another area explored by this extensive survey was the changing composition of in-home meals. A Rockwellian picture of the nuclear family gathered around the table for a meal is truly a relic from the past. The survey revealed that 47 percent of eating occasions are a singular event. And people eat differently when they eat alone.

The survey also found an increase in eating occasions as snacking has increased tremendously, with eating a snack before breakfast and just before bed trending upward. Borra said eating occasions are now meals 50 percent of the time and snacks the other 50 percent.

These changing habits do offer opportunities for retailers.

For example, Borra said 63 percent of the time the decision about what to eat is made within one hour of consumption. That is one reason why prepared food at retail is a huge growth item. Demeritt said shoppers "are looking for inspiration at the store."

And that is especially true of younger shoppers.

Of the age groups studied, millennials are least likely to prepare a list or to actually plan out the meal ahead of time. As expected, the older shoppers engage in list making and planning more often. Women do use a shopping list more often than men, which is another factor that can be exploited in-store. Women more often pantry shop, while men more often are picking a needed item and may be more susceptible to impulse buys.

There is a strong correlation between cooking and shopping as the primary shopper tends to do most of the cooking. But the fact is that men's presence in both the supermarket and the kitchen is rapidly increasing. In just one generation, men's participation has grown 50 percent.

Shopping and cooking have gone from "a matriarchy to a democracy," said Borra. More people are involved and expressing their opinion. More than 55 percent of the people living in multiple-person households say they customize their meals for individual tastes. In other words, the days of one-menu-fits-all are quickly disappearing.

Borra reiterated that this is a positive for retailers, as it gives them the opportunity to help shoppers make buying decisions and meet their changing needs. She said a very high percentage of shoppers trust their retailer and do look to them for suggestions.

This survey, like many others, also points to consumers wanting to eat a healthier diet. Seventy percent say they don't eat as healthy as they would like, but 92 percent said they eat healthier at home than the meals they eat outside the home. This again bodes well for retailers.

Consumers also have a high regard for the food safety of supermarkets and the ability of the Food & Drug Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to keep their food safe.

About 93 percent trust their grocery story and believe the food is safe. Seventy-two percent trust that growers have their safety in mind when producing the product. These numbers have been growing steadily since reaching a low level during the E. coli outbreak associated with fresh spinach in 2006.

The FMI survey did not reveal much participation in online food shopping. Only about 8 percent of those questioned said they had bought food online in the previous 30 days. Millennials skewed a little higher, but still only 12 percent in that mostly 20-something generation had bought food online in the previous month.

And when shoppers do buy online, about half the time they are purchasing snacks rather than staples. Only 18 percent of all online food buys in this survey consisted of fresh produce. That 18 percent of the 7-8 percent shopping online accounts for only about 1.5 percent of shoppers.

In her concluding remarks, Demeritt reiterated that there needs to be a major marketing shift by American retailers because of the buying shift of consumers. Borra echoed those remarks, noting that retailers have to find new ways to target market, perhaps honing in on more specific shopper demographics than they ever have in the past.

Link to full article:  http://theproducenews.com/news-dep-menu/test-featured/16784-new-marketing-strategies-needed-for-today-s-shopper

 
 
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