Serving as a resource for retailers and manufacturers as the industry embarks on the next digital frontier, Food Marketing Institute (FMI) and Nielsen (NYSE: NLSN) today released a preview of its “Digitally Engaged Food Shopper” analysis.
To help retailers and manufacturers better understand the forces and factors of change driven by digital technologies within the food marketplace, FMI and Nielsen (NYSE: NLSN) announced today a strategic analytic alliance to uncover comprehensive insights on the “Digitally Engaged Food Shopper.”
We want answers to those questions to better enable our members, which is why FMI is embarking on a multidimensional, multi-year digital shopper and digitally enabled retailing journey with Nielsen. We’ll explore the business imperatives that are crucial to understanding retailers’ positioning today and to have a strategic vision for the future – capabilities among people, processes, and technologies; priorities for connected commerce solutions; and to anticipate the barriers and pitfalls to avoid.
I’ve always posited that food should be more like fashion. Similar to the latest trends in lapels and color palettes, consumers’ palates are attuned to what’s hot in the food world. Consumers may be willing to experiment with new foods and flavors, but counter to the world of fashion, what we’ve found in our consumer research is that it’s not necessarily an event or the media, or even food suppliers that influence their purchases. When it comes to a trusted authority on wellness, for instance, U.S. consumers primarily rely on their families, doctors and friends. Still, the primary food store ranks high on the list of supporters, and notably, the top-10 wellness allies are without a pop culture reference.
FMI’s U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends 2016 suggests that shoppers are using digital tools prior to and during shopping trips. No surprise, Millennials are most likely to engage with retailers using social media or other digital tools, such as apps. The Trends analysis makes a strong case that our rapidly changing food culture demands more creative ways to integrate new technologies into how shoppers plan, browse, curate, purchase and ultimately eat.
Some recent stories in the media have hypothesized that the grocery checkout clerk and deli associate will be replaced by robots and other emerging technologies. For those working in the food retail industry this might raise some alarms, but if we stop and examine the issue a bit further we’ll see the story isn’t as black and white as it may seem. Here are some grey areas to consider.
When was the last time you purchased a hardcover book? How about a magazine? How many of your adult children have a newspaper delivered to their home every day of the week? Did you do most of your holiday shopping this year in a department store or online? All of these questions should stop and make you think because each of these industries—publishing, news media, retail—are being reshaped by digital shoppers. And as it is happening to these industries, it is also happening to our industry.
The startup mentality is calculated when it comes to risk taking; it’s this confidence that gives a startup a scrappy persona and an optimism that doesn’t appear afraid to fail. Trend spotters suggest that food startups are on the rise, which the grocery industry can attest to firsthand, but speed-to-market is arguably an attribute that has never been at the fingertips of many food retailers. Still, if our industry can keep pace with the demand for ecommerce, then it stands to reason that we can in turn keep pace with the behavior of our shoppers and create a more startup-like culture and attitude.
Whether the future of food retailing lies with brick-and-mortar stores, online operators or a combination of both is not the question to ask. The real challenge is to ask ourselves how ready are we to leverage digital technology and operational changes to engage and augment physical interactions? If we are to take advantage of what could be a critical business opportunity, here are some of the questions our industry must ask itself.
There is little doubt that the leading high-tech producers have discovered the consumer goods and food retailing marketplace. In some cases, technology providers are working as our partners, working together to find automated solutions to problems and analytical tools to fuel growth. In other cases, they are developing business models that can appear to be in competition with the industry models we have grown accustomed to.
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