Mergers and acquisitions are a commonplace occurrence in the marketplace, but every now and then one transaction stands out, causing rampant speculation as to the implications such a deal may have within an industry. This is certainly the case with Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods Market that set the food and beverage industry all abuzz and atwitter this past summer.
While all eyes are focused on the online juggernaut for any indication of how and to what extent it will shake up the digital and physical world of food retailing even further, the real question for the industry to consider is: with more options than ever before, including an expanding array of online food retailers, how do consumers shop for food today?
A Complex Culture of Choice and Change
Today’s food-shopping landscape is a far cry from the humble days of the neighborhood market and farmers’ food stands. The story of modern-day food retailing is one of complexity, congestion, and consolidation. It is a story about legacy retailers struggling to close a relevancy gap between what consumers expect food retailers to sell and what they desire them to sell.
Our Food Shopping in America 2017 report shows that shopping for food and beverage has become increasingly multifaceted, with fundamental shifts taking place across the food-retailing landscape. Today’s consumers are faced with more product and brand choices, channel options, and economic pressures than ever before. Here are three notable characteristics of contemporary food shopping.
The Joy of Shopping In Person…Really
There may be one barrier insurmountable to online food retailers: the emotional connection to in-store shopping. Food Shopping in America 2017 finds that grocery shopping is more than a chore, because providing food is more than a chore — it is an act of love. Online shopping has been steadily growing since 2012: 29 percent of shoppers ordered food online in the past three months in 2017 compared to 23 percent in 2014 and 18 percent in 2012.
While online shopping is growing, it isn’t the main shopping channel for the majority of food shopping occasions. And the biggest barrier to online grocery shopping is simply enjoying shopping in person. Food Shopping in America 2017 finds that among consumers who have not done any online ordering in the past three months, close to half of these consumers (48 percent) cite “enjoying shopping in person more” as the primary reason.
Shifts in Demographics
Many Millennials and Boomers are in the midst of major life-stage changes. As Millennials age, more have gained the traditional markers of adulthood (financial stability, marriage, and parenthood), likely increasing their shopping frequency and buying power. Boomers, on the other hand, continue to move out of the workforce in rising numbers.
The New Meaning of Convenience
Convenience is still a key grocery-shopping need. But consumers’ ideas of what convenience means have matured. With many more options than in the past, consumers look for convenience options that also provide delight.
The number of retailers providing groceries to consumers has never been more robust, from big-box one-stop shops to specialty markets to an expanding online-shopping universe. We continue to move further away from the traditional model of grocery shopping — a married woman who plans and cooks her family’s meals, makes the list, finds the coupons, and buys everything she needs at a conventional grocer once a week or so.
What we have now is a much more complicated orchestration characterized on the one hand by:
and on the other hand by:
From one-stop shopping to multichannel shopping to online markets and click and collect, The Hartman Group continues to track consumers’ evolving perceptions, needs, habits, and relationships with food retailers. For the most in-depth understanding of this complex, evolving marketplace, order the report: Food Shopping in America 2017
As leaders in the study of American food culture, The Hartman Group has been tracking how Americans shop for food since the 1990s. From one-stop shopping to multichannel shopping to online markets and click-and-collect, we continue to track consumers’ evolving perceptions, needs, habits and relationships with food retailers. New to the 2017 report is a special section on the expansion of the discount grocery channel, the emerging fresh-format channel and smaller-footprint retail formats.