Supermarkets to Continue Evolving, Incorporate More Social Opportunities

During the new year, the role of the supermarket will change from a place to just pick up groceries to a destination for connecting with neighbors and friends, as well as a place to connect with brands on a social level.  SupermarketGuru's Phil Lempert predicts some of the hot new trends to affect the supermarket & food industry in 2014. men grocery

COMMUNITY COOKING CENTERS:  Traditionally, family and friends gather in the kitchen for good food and good company. But in this fast paced and ever-​changing world, people are looking for a sense of community and a center outside their home, whether it’s a local coffee shop, recreation center or even a grocery store. In 2014, supermarkets will become a new central hub for consumers to gather and learn from each other.

Grocery stores are beginning to offer services such as “community cooking centers” where shoppers can collaborate and learn from each other. These social environments will be the perfect place for the aging Millennial population as they are a group that likes to cook, but doesn’t necessarily have the skills to make elaborate meals at home.  In addition, as consumers are looking for a more “connected culture,” retailers will begin rethinking the layout of the supermarket.

SNACKING:  As concern over health and the awareness of how eating affects our bodies long-​term continues to increase, more brands and nutritionists will embrace snacking for better health in 2014.  Supermarkets will seek to capitalize on the healthier snacking trend — especially at the checkout — and replace traditional high-​sugar, high-​fat snacks with healthier on-​the-​go offerings.

CAUSE:  Consumers are not only concerned about the companies that produce their food, but also what the companies do for the communities they serve.  Whether the brand values education or curing diseases, consumers are beginning to contribute their dollars to brands that give a sense of purpose to their product and align with their own core values.  In 2014, look for food brands to focus more on community outreach or social cause efforts. As companies become more open with their consumers, they will earn a more loyal following.

SOCIAL & DIGITAL:  In the era of Social Media, the food industry can benefit by enabling consumers to learn about the products they love to eat and connect with brands on a social level like never before. The powerful Millennial population is making our food experiences more social, and in 2014 we will see technology shape how consumers shop, influence their food preferences, and change what product brands offer to meet consumer needs.

As consumers continue to rely on technology for the sake of convenience and saving time, people will begin to rely more on their mobile phones when grocery shopping. Look for the next phase of technology to offer the ability to select a recipe, order ingredients and check-​out directly from mobile devices or in-​car touch screens.  Grocery retailers may install drive-​through windows for order pickup as a way to compete with same-​day delivery eRetail competitors.

STORE BRANDS:  As product quality has improved, so have the packaging graphics and overall image of store brands. No longer will private brands just emulate national brand products, but more and more consumers will see store brands create new products on their own.  Because consumer loyalty will change the supermarket landscape in 2014, many retailers will adjust their offerings according to their current clientele. From store brands to better quality food, only the retailers with the most loyal following will come out on top.

BREAKFAST:  With breakfast on the mind during 2014, look for brands to expand their morning meal offerings and for the category to expand. As proteins and whole grains hit the supermarkets, consumers will have a large selection to choose from in the new year.

PACKAGING:  From canned food to cartons, to convenience and safety, packaging plays a very important role when it comes to food production. And now, many shoppers are wanting more. Consumers have become increasingly more interested in knowing every aspect of their food from its origin to customer reviews, so brands are going to start offering those deep insights about the food you are eating right on its package. As convenience is a driving force in almost all aspects of technological advancements, “touch” sensitive packaging will help consumers with their purchasing decisions and make their shopping trips more expedient.  By sharing everything the consumer wants to know right on the package, grocery stores will become a wealth of knowledge in the new year.

INTERNATIONAL CUISINE:  Latino and Asian populations are now the fastest growing U.S. population and are influencing more than language in our country. Inspirations from their heritages and traditions are quickly changing our palettes. The surges of Latino and Asian populations and growing consumer interest in adding more flavor and variety to mealtime has led to more growth opportunities for Latin and Asian cuisines in the food world. With children being exposed to global cuisine flavors at a much younger age than in previous generations, international flavors will be more accepted by these children as they age, and their palates will be more sophisticated at a younger age.

[Source:  Lempert, Phil.  "The Lempert Report."  SupermarketGuru.  Dec. 2013.  Web.  24 Dec. 2013.]