Aisle Chatter

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As anyone who isn’t living under a rock knows, the digital world is taking over all aspects of our lives. As expectations become realities (Amazon, anyone?), bricks and mortar grocery retailers need to get with the program before they get left behind. Deloitte, the well-known multinational professional services firm, recently released a survey called, “The Grocery Digital Divide: How Consumers Products Companies Can Deliver on the New Digital Imperative.” The survey points out that 51 percent of grocery sales are digitally influenced on the path to purchase, an uptick from last year’s study that found that statistic to be 33 percent (up 18 percent year over year). Since 2013, the influence of digital technologies on all retail shopping has increased from 14 percent to 56 percent – that’s a 300 percent increase! The growth of mobile’s influence over the same time frame went from 5 percent to 37 percent. The survey also points out that digital drives consumers to spend more and that grocery retailers can grasp the opportunities presented by this rise in digital influence if they “quickly adapt their business models and build capabilities to deliver on the new digital imperative.” According to Barb Renner, vice chairman of Deloitte LLP and U.S. consumer products leader, “People are making decisions about what goes in the grocery cart long before they get to the shelf or even the store. The majority of food and beverage purchases still happen in the store, but consumers’ online or mobile experiences impact those purchases much earlier in the shopping journey. In our research, people saw room for improvement from grocers compared to digital experiences they find in other retail categories. Consumer products companies and retailers who create those digital touchpoints have a much better shot at getting the shopper’s attention and loyalty before competitors, many of whom aren’t even in the game yet.” To download the complete survey, go to: https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/pages/consumer-business/articles/grocery-digital-divide-survey.html.

Another digital aspect of the grocery world that is continually on the rise is e-commerce. Saint Joseph’s University will be hosting an industry panel on this exact topic in the Baltimore-Washington metro area on Tuesday, October 17 at Martin’s Crosswinds as part of its Educational Scholarship Series. The event, titled, “Bricks & Clicks: The e-commerce Explosion,” will touch upon the latest technological and digital innovations that are impacting the way consumers shop in-store and online. The evening learning event will feature four industry experts as its panelists: Brian Frederick, director of e-commerce for McCormick; Steve Henig, vice president of digital commerce and analytics at Wakefern; Jaime Hennessey, who oversees brand partnerships at Instacart; and Barry Clogan, EVP-retail for MyWebGrocer. The function will also offer the opportunity for networking before and after the panel discussion. It’s a must-attend for anyone trying to grow in this burgeoning sector of grocery retailing. Plus, the proceeds for this event will provide scholarship aid to students in the food marketing program at Saint Joseph’s University, so if you attend, you can consider it your philanthropic deed of the day! For more information or to register, go to: http://www.sju.edu/fmkscholarships.

The Network of Executive Women hosted its Leadership Summit late last month in the nation’s capital. The annual event brought together approximately 1,200 CPG and retail executives from around the country to experience, as the organization puts it, “in-depth learning, networking, inspiration, team building and career advice for advancing your career, growing your organization’s business and transforming the industry.” This year’s theme, “Thriving Together” was addressed with several keynote speakers and a two sets of breakout sessions during which attendees were able to select the topics of their choice. Lisa Ling (executive producer and host of “This Is Lisa Ling” on CNN and seasoned television journalist) was the opening keynote speaker, during which she not only shared stories from her illustrious career, but also addressed the topic of gender inequality and wage disparity in the workplace. Other keynote speakers throughout the two-day event included leadership expert and executive coach Grace Killelea, Accenture’s Julie Sweet (CEO for North America) and Nellie Borrero (senior global inclusion and diversity managing director) and closing out the summit was Dr. Victoria Husted Medvec, founder and executive director of the Kellogg School’s Center for Executive Women. 2017 Awards were presented at the Thursday evening gala, including an award to the Mid-Atlantic region chapter for Inclusion Excellence and to NEW Philly for Excellence in Events and Programming. Congrats to both local regions for having such a strong showing at this year’s summit! Also, a major shout-out to the Mid-Atlantic region volunteers (with a strong showing by people from Giant/Landover and Utz, among others) who helped make the show a success.

Beginning this month, Ahold USA becomes a participating member of the Minnesota-based healthy lifestyle program called “Heathy Savings.” The program, which focuses on improving diets and is sponsored by health plans, government agencies, employers and non-profit organizations, provides members with savings of more than $50 a week on fresh fruits and vegetables as well as better-for-you staples such as milk, eggs, lean meats, whole grain breads, cereals, juices and beans. Consumers shop for promoted items at participating grocery stores, scan a barcode at checkout and save instantly. More than 200 consumer brands with qualifying foods are promoted as part of the Healthy Savings program. “We know many healthy eating choices begin at the supermarket, and Ahold USA brands are known for offering a wide variety of healthy choices and resources like in-store nutritionists and pharmacists to customers,” stated Marissa Nelson, SVP of responsible retailing and healthy living for Ahold USA. “Partnering with the Healthy Savings program provides meaningful incentives that give loyal shoppers another reason to look to our retail brand stores for better-for-you options at a real value.” All four banners of Ahold USA will be taking part in the program: Giant Landover, Giant/Martin’s, Stop & Shop New York Metro and Stop & Shop New England.

Just a quick follow-up to my mention of Albertsons Companies’ relief efforts for victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma in last month’s column. The company managed to raise more than $8 million over the course of 21 days through its point-of-sale campaign at its 2,300 plus stores. One hundred percent of the donations collected at the company’s Albertsons, Safeway, Vons, Jewel-Osco, Shaw’s, Acme Markets, Tom Thumb, Randalls, United Supermarkets, Pavilions, Star Market, Haggen, Carrs, and other stores across the United States will go directly to local disaster relief organizations, including the Salvation Army, Houston Food Bank, Feeding Texas and others. In addition to the generous direct monetary donation the retailer made, the Albertsons Companies Foundation contributed to the September 12 telethon “Hand in Hand: A Benefit for Hurricane Relief,” which aired on multiple networks and online and which raised $55 million. Albertsons’ long commitment to serving cities and communities in crisis was recently recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation which named the organization as a 2017 finalist for the prestigious corporate citizenship award. The company is being recognized in the best disaster relief and community resilience category for its response to the August 2016 floods in Louisiana. Kudos to Albertsons Companies for your continued support and extreme generosity in the communities that you serve and congratulations on a recognition well-deserved. I will surely be rooting for you on November 15 when the winners are announced!

Until next month…