Shoppers Seeking More Personalized Connection with Grocers

BY Shannon Bryant
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As consumers continue to demand more from retailers, the grocery industry should adapt and provide targeted shopping experiences tailored to specific consumer needs and changing demographics, according to a new report from PwC.  Based on a survey of more than 1,000 shoppers, the report shares insights on changing consumer segments, what they'll want for the future and what can be done today to keep them happy tomorrow.

"Grocers can no longer rely on providing a one-​size-​fits-​all customer experience. The next wave of millennial consumers is likely to demand individualized attention and a shopping experience that meets their specific wants and needs," said Steven Barr, PwC's U.S. retail & consumer practice leader. "We're helping our clients look closely at their target customer segments on a micro level to effectively tailor the path to purchase for each shopper when they are in and out of the store. Grocers that truly get to know their customers on a store-​by-​store basis can find success in the future."

According to PwC, 83% of survey respondents prefer to shop at traditional grocery stores. That is unlikely to change in the future; however, customers will likely call for more personal connections with their grocer in the form of targeted coupons and deals, robust reward programs and convenient, efficient in-​store shopping experiences.

More than half of the shoppers surveyed complained of long lines and crowded stores. Grocers that provide a smoother in-​store experience by taming congestion are likely to earn repeated shopper visits. Furthermore, shoppers will increasingly look to store employees as shopping advisors, whether for additional product information, new recipe tips or purchase recommendations, as they will want increased service and assistance with decision making.

Although online shopping is seeing exponential growth in the retail industry, the grocery segment has not shown the same levels of engagement. Only one percent of survey respondents consider online shopping their primary way of getting groceries, though 92 percent reported having the option to online grocery shop.

"While online channels may not become a common way to buy groceries in the near future, technology will still play a major role in the evolving grocery experience," said Sabina Saksena, managing director in PwC's U.S. retail & consumer practice. "Shoppers expect information at their fingertips and, according to our survey, more than half of respondents want to integrate their mobile devices into their future grocery experience. Grocers that innovate and build on their digital channels to meet this demand will be most successful."

Ad-​ology Research has discovered that frequent grocery shoppers – those who shop at a supermarket more than 5 times during a typical week – are considerably more likely than the average consumer to be between the ages of 18 and 34, be single, and live in an urban area.  Almost 57% of frequent grocery shoppers are men and 46% are willing to pay more for quality.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to Ad-​ology PRO. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports in AdMall.