Over the next several decades, the U.S. grocery retail experience will increasingly be shaped by multicultural consumers, based on population growth and current shopping behaviors, new research from CPG sales and marketing firm Acosta finds.
Net U.S. population growth is estimated at 98 million from 2014 to 2060, with the Hispanic population projected to rise by 64 million in that time, according to Acosta’s first “Multicultural The Why? Behind The Buy” study, released this week. Growth is forecast at 22 million for the Asian-American population and 18 million apiece for the African-American and multi-racial segments, while the Caucasian/Non-Hispanic population is expected to decline by 16 million.
"The growing multicultural population will drastically impact the grocery industry, and we have already noticed key differences between shopper groups," noted John Clevenger, senior vice president and managing director for Acosta Strategic Advisors.
For example, more multicultural shoppers find the grocery shopping experience enjoyable. Acosta found that 72% of African-American, 65% of Hispanic and 61% of Asian-American consumers surveyed enjoy shopping for groceries, compared with 56% of Caucasian/Non-Hispanic consumers.
Similarly, grocery shopping tends to be more of a family affair with multicultural consumers. Seventy-two percent of Asian-American, 67% of Hispanic and 63% of African-American consumers say they shop with others during their regular grocery purchasing trips versus 55% of Caucasian/Non-Hispanic customers.
Multicultural shoppers also tend to shop for groceries across more retail channels. According to Acosta’s study, Hispanic customers purchased groceries at an average of 3.84 types of stores in the previous six months, compared with 3.53 stores for Asian-Americans, 3.33 stores for African-Americans and 3.26 stores for Caucasian/Non-Hispanic shoppers.
Among the retail channel findings, 54% of Asian-Americans shopped for groceries in a warehouse/club store (versus 38% of total U.S. shoppers), and 47% of African-Americans did grocery shopping in a dollar store (versus 39% of total U.S. shoppers). Meanwhile, 23% of Hispanic customers said they shopped in a Hispanic/ethnic grocery store during the past six months, compared with 3% of all U.S. shoppers.
More multicultural consumers, too, are embracing the latest retail grocery trends — including ready-to-eat meals and digital shopping services — than the overall U.S. population, Acosta noted.
For instance, in the previous 30 days, 76% of Hispanic, 70% of Asian-American, 69% of African-American and 59% of Caucasian/Non-Hispanic shoppers brought home prepared food from a grocery store, compared with 62% of all U.S. shoppers. Thirty-three percent of U.S. shoppers ordered groceries online for delivery or pickup in the past 30 days versus 57% for Hispanic, 44% for Asian-American, 41% for African-American and 29% for Causcasian/Non-Hispanic consumers.
Acosta’s findings show that multicultural grocery shoppers are comfortable with digital interactions. Among Hispanic customers, 44% said they read a digital grocery flyer/circular (versus 35% of total U.S. shoppers), and 35% use a mobile device to locate products in-store (versus 20% of total U.S. shoppers). Of African-American consumers polled, 38% said they use a search engine to find recipes online (versus 28% of total U.S. shoppers), and 27% use a touchscreen kiosk in stores (versus 20% of total U.S. shoppers). Also, among Asian-American shoppers, 37% reported using a shopping list on their mobile device (versus 26% of total U.S. shoppers), and 36% said they use a product coupon on their smartphone at checkout (versus 27% of total U.S. shoppers).
A sizable percentage of multicultural shoppers express interest in eating healthier and exploring new kinds of meals. Forty-nine percent of Hispanic and Asian-American and 48% of African-American consumers agreed they often buy natural/organic products because they’re healthier, compared with 33% of Caucasian/Non-Hispanic customers, Acosta said. And just 24% of Caucasian/Non-Hispanic shoppers said they would take cooking classes to learn how to prepare new meals/dishes versus 40% of Hispanic, 38% of African-American and 34% of Asian-American consumers.
"Multicultural shoppers recognize the link between food and their health and are significantly more likely to buy natural and organic foods even though they are more expensive,” Clevenger explained. “Understanding these unique values and preferences is vital for manufacturers and retailers to win with this emerging consumer group."
Multicultural consumers’ strong brand engagement also underscores the need to better comprehend their grocery shopping preferences, Acosta added. Sixty-five percent of African-American and 59% of Hispanic customers indicated they’re passionate about their favorite grocery brands versus 47% of Caucasian/Non-Hispanic and 46% of Asian-American shoppers. And 49% of Hispanic, 46% of Asian-American and 41% of African-American consumers say they buy grocery brands that are authentic to their ethnic heritage, compared with 26% of Caucasian/Non-Hispanic shoppers.