There’s nothing so powerful as data points that serve as wakeup calls. These were presented at FMI2012 in Dallas last week by Leslie Sarasin , the association’s president and CEO.
• Only 64% of shoppers, the lowest percentage in years, chose conventional supermarkets as their primary shopping venue, according to FMI research.
• In 2010, online shopping represented $12 billion of sales of consumer packaged goods, and by 2014 that number is expected to more than double.
• Traditional grocery stores haven’t been adding square footage, while supercenters, dollar stores, convenience stores and clubs have added 150 million square feet since 2005.
Those nuggets of information prompted discussion at the conference about steps the industry should take to reignite growth and recalibrate for a changing consumer. Self-examination is a good thing, especially when the solutions point to differentiation and innovation.
“Price isn’t a strategy to grow your business in the long term,” said Thomas Blischok, chief retail strategist at Booz & Co., who moderated a session here on collaboration.
Another urgent topic was the growing impact of digital and social communications and how retailers can join the party. That topic was addressed at a conference session  with its own set of data: There are 30 billion Facebook status updates a month, 5.3 billion video views in a 24-hour period on YouTube, and 340 million tweets published on Twitter in a single day. Breaking through this clutter isn’t easy but will be increasingly important for retailers and suppliers, said Shiv Singh, global head of digital, PepsiCo.
The talk at FMI2012 wasn’t only about challenges for retailers. Attendees said the strategy of co-locating other events in Dallas, including FMI’s Private Brands Summit  and United Fresh 2012 , produced a more diverse experience.
Not surprisingly, one of FMI2012’s signature elements, the first-time Supermarket Chef Showdown , injected a culinary feel and was a hot topic of conversation both on the show floor and in the twitterverse.
FMI saved one piece of news to reveal last week to positive buzz. The next installment of this event, in 2014, will mark a return to Chicago , the longtime home of the trade show. At a time when the industry is dealing with all kinds of changes on the customer and competitive fronts, the prospect of returning to the Windy City for an FMI show seemed like just the right mix of nostalgia and excitement.