Aisle Chatter

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While it may be some time before online grocery shopping becomes a real threat to bricks-and-mortar stores, it is important to note that with around 52 million people currently shopping online, that number is only going to continue to multiply as online retailers figure out the efficiencies of doing it right. Surprisingly, a recent report released by the NPD Group (one of the largest market research companies in the world) has indicated that the most likely online grocery shoppers to make up the greatest number of new shoppers will be young men. The report, titled “The Virtual Grocery Store,” found that more than 40 percent of grocery shoppers are men and that 60 percent of men ages 18-44 purchased their groceries online. The report also points out that men spend less time in physical stores than women and that many of them find grocery shopping “a necessary evil,” which is why they find online grocery shopping appealing. The report also found that Amazon Prime members represent another substantial demographic of people who do their grocery shopping virtually as do young adults of the Gen Z and Millennial generations who find that online shopping for most things has become second nature to them. According to Darren Seifer, food and beverage industry analyst for the NPD Group, “Although online grocery shopping lags other e-commerce industries in terms of development, it is growing and the groups that are the most active online grocery shoppers are valuable shoppers as they spend more on groceries overall than brick and mortar only shoppers. Now is the time to start developing test programs if you lack an e-commerce program or to expand your current services. Keep in mind it’s about saving consumers time using an online presence for them to get the foods and beverages they’re accustomed to consuming.”  To get more information about the report, go to www.npd.com/latest-reports/virtual-grocery-store/.

Maybe one way to engage young male grocery shoppers can be through the company Shopkick, whose shopping app for smartphones and tablets offers customers rewards for walking into stores. The Silicon Valley-based company just launched Shopkick Grocery, which is now available for use in more than 37,000 grocery retailers nationwide including Kroger, Publix, Safeway, Target, Wal-Mart and more. The app helps “gamify” the shopping experience and provides shoppers “kicks” (the app’s form of currency) which they can exchange for gift cards to many different retailers including T.J.Maxx, Starbucks, Target, Wal-Mart and many others. To earn these “kicks,” consumers need to engage with brands’ content by doing such things as scanning barcodes on products, making purchases, watching videos, trying suggested recipes and more. The benefits for the participating retailers and manufacturers, according to the company’s press release, is that “Shopkick Grocery drives closer relationships with consumers, resulting in a consistent and measurable stream of foot traffic, as well as increased product engagement and in-store sales. In an ever-changing, increasingly mobile world, these retailers and brands are looking to digital solutions that outperform paper circulars and coupons, while preserving margins.” Seems like a fun way to grocery shop – who wouldn’t want to earn rewards for doing something they already do?

The Coastal Companies recently hosted its first “Homegrown Hub” at its headquarters in Laurel, MD where the produce supplier connected some of the smaller, more unique and hard-to-reach farms it represents with its retail and foodservice customers. The one-day event gave growers and customers an opportunity to meet face-to-face, see and taste products and discuss needs. Among the great products featured were New Day Farms’ sunflower microgreens and Trickling Springs’ goat butter. A special shout out goes to Coastal’s Jess Amodeo for organizing this great event. I look forward to the next one!

In order to raise awareness about the risks of diabetes and help those have it better manage the disease, Supervalu has launched its 10th annual “My Diabetes Coach” campaign. Starting late last month and running until June 17, shoppers are encouraged to visit their local Shoppers Food & Pharmacy, Farm Fresh, Cub or Shop ‘n Save Pharmacy for a free diabetes risk assessment and free glucose screening performed by a store pharmacist. “Diabetes is a serious condition that can significantly impact quality of life, which is why early detection and proper care are so important, stated Steve McCann, vice president of pharmacy for Supervalu. “Through the ‘My Diabetes Coach program, our goal is to help people learn to prevent or live well with the disease.” According to the American Diabetes Association, around 86 million Americans age 20 or older are pre-diabetic with 1.4 million new cases of diabetes diagnosed each year.

The Albertsons Companies Foundation doing business as The Safeway Foundation and the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) announced late last month that their joint charitable program, “Hunger Is,” has awarded more than $4.6 million to fund 113 programs whose mission is to feed hungry children throughout the United States. The funds were raised through a fall in-store fundraiser of the same name at Safeway and the rest of the 2,300 Albertson Companies family of stores in 33 states and the District of Columbia. Donations were generated through customer purchases of participating products as well as customer donations at checkout. The list of grantees, as well as more information about the program itself, can be found at www.hungeris.org/grantawards.

Also doing its part to counter hunger in the area is Giant/Landover, whose donations to regional food bank partners and local pantries accounted for 61 percent ($9 million) of the retailer’s overall charitable donations in 2016. Additionally, Giant/Landover donated more than $825,000 in “Fighting Child Hunger” grants to its five partner Feeding America food banks  – Capital Area Food Bank, Fredericksburg Regional Food Bank, Maryland Food Bank, Blue Ridge Area Food Bank and Food Bank of Delaware. Giant/Landover also named the Capital Area Food Bank as the beneficiary of a $50,000 donation courtesy of the 2016 Giant National Capital Barbecue Battle. This month Giant/Landover continued its tradition of supplying each of the Feeding America food banks with 200 hams in the week leading up to Easter. It’s so nice to see a retailer that gives back to its community year-round – keep up the great work!

And finally, at this year’s Weis Strategic Summit, the Sunbury, PA-based retailer once again honored its high performance partners with Vendors of the Year awards, which this year included two new categories. The best service provider awards, designed to honor the companies that are in Weis Markets’ stores working in support of their sales programs and go-to-market initiatives, went to Hallmark Greeting Cards and SAS Retail. The next awards, given to the companies with the highest sales increases, went to George’s (supplier of foodservice chicken), Perdue Farms, Samuel’s and Son Seafood Company and Nestle Purina. The final award for year-over year sales growth, went to the companies that have helped increase sales over consecutive years. The winners in this category were Hershey, Imperial Distributors, Country Fresh Mushrooms, Passion Growers, Pinnacle Foods and Dannon. Congrats to all of the recipients on a recognition well-deserved!

Have any interesting industry stories or events you’d like me to mention in my column? Send them my way at kfernandez@best-met.com. After all, if I don’t know about it, I can’t write about it!

Until next month…