What keeps me up at night when thinking about the supermarket industry (the question itself will keep you up at night!)? The one word that kept popping up in my head was Relevant.
Relevant. Will the industry keep up with the myriad of changes that are occurring within society: the next generation of digitally adept consumers; the increasingly diverse U.S. population, whether it be in terms of ethnicity, age or income; and the new wave of competition in the physical and on-line space?
What does it mean to be relevant? Simply put, it requires supermarkets and suppliers to meet the increasingly diverse demands of these new customers and offer something meaningful to them. Why is this so important today? In the past, we made the assumption that customers, once they met a certain age or criteria (i.e., married, with young kids), would naturally gravitate towards supermarkets. We don’t believe this to be the case in the future as these customers have access to more types of retail and online experiences than ever before. The supermarket’s role in modern retailing is no longer a given; its role needs to be earned by being relevant to the consumer.
So, what does relevant look like? That’s the much tougher question to answer, but here’s a few thought-starters:
• A diverse and empathetic leadership team. How many retailers boast management teams that are reflective of their base of consumers? Not enough, in our experience. And if you can’t create that diversity, you had better have deep empathy for their needs.
• An embrace of omni-channel experiences. From pure e-commerce to utilizing omni-channel tools (in-store pick-up, mobile POS, digital couponing, etc.), be open to the new ways that customers will interact with your stores. Or, they will easily go somewhere else.
• A commitment to innovation. Relevant companies will constantly try new ideas that help them connect to current and future generation of customers. This should include everything from new product categories, new services and new formats.
We have no doubt that the next generation of best in class retailers will figure out creative ways to be relevant. It won’t be easy but the industry has always proven itself to be up for the challenge.
What are you doing to stay relevant with your shoppers?