Enormous changes are taking place within the massive grocery industry. As those patterns take their time in playing out, behavioral nuances are already driving substantive changes. Even small changes in consumer habits will have huge consequences, as predictions place the grocery industry hitting +$700B in the next five years.Context Around Large Shifts
Though the vast majority of grocery shopping still happens in-store, channel shifting is set to occur, driven by Millennial and Gen Z shoppers. While 23% of Americans buy groceries online now, that number is expected to leap to over 70% within ten years. Americans are seeking the ideal combination of convenience, wellness, and price. The desire for convenience also explains the rise of snacking, a trend that fits well into the busy lives of American adults. No longer bound to the set tradition of three square meals, 94% of US adults snack daily.
In the Moment Eating
The “grab-and-go” snack mentality relates to the overall pattern of living (and eating) in the moment. Historically, stocking up on weekly groceries was in vogue. Yet that requires careful planning, and makes changing your mind mid-week difficult. Now we’re seeing more frequent trips to the grocery store, with quick fill-ins satisfying the “need it now” mindset. With the rise of quick (and viral) social media videos, consumers are acting quickly on digital inspiration.
Convenience, Convenience, Convenience
The retailers that add value and ease to their consumers’ lives are those set to succeed. Amazon and Walmart are competing with a vengeance to win that precise balance in the minds of busy Americans. Just this week, Amazon-owned Whole Foods debuted a convenience store in the New York City neighborhood of Chelsea. Convenience stores are ripe for disruption, with only 15% of consumers noting that they are happy with the healthy food options at locations within that category. This week Amazon also discounted hundreds of items at Whole Foods locations across the country. These two actions by Amazon, practically in lockstep, underscore the trends that we noted above and reveal that Amazon is in sync with their consumer’s priorities. And, while it might take several more years for the most significant changes in grocery retailing to play out, there are plenty of opportunities for retailers in the meantime, so long as they are aware of consumer trends and insights.
Sources: Mintel Convenience Store Foodservice – US March 2019, Mintel Corner Whole Foods, Mintel Grocery Retailing US July 2018, Mintel Snacking Motivations and Attitudes, Euromonitor, Snacks in the US September 2018