Shifting Out of Neutral

Unlike many other chores, grocery shopping is one most people actually enjoy. The share of shoppers who like the grocery trip is typically more than four times higher than that of folks who consider shopping for food anything but fun. About one-quarter of the population feel neutral about a trip to the supermarket and neither like nor dislike it. Why is having fun in the grocery store important? It turns out that fostering a fun shopping environment and generating excitement around buying food can pay off big. People who enjoy grocery shopping, also:

  • Shop more frequently than average.

  • Cook dinner more often in a typical week than the average consumer.

  • Spend more than average on groceries.

  • Have a great loyalty to and like for their primary grocery store.

  • Spend a higher share of their total food dollars and total trips at the primary store.

In other words, happy shoppers are good for the bottom line. While it may be difficult or impossible to change the attitude of those who simply dislike grocery shopping, supermarkets have a multitude of options to move those who feel neutral about the shopping trip to actually enjoy their time in the store. Here are some examples of what supermarkets have done to do just that:

  • Host in-store activities — remember Wegman’s much reported live music and date nights?

  • Community involvement ranging from allowing the girl scouts to sell their cookies in front of your stores to sponsorships of local events.

  • Charity events, recognizing or celebrating a local or national cause. A good recent example is Price Choppers’ recognition of war veterans on Memorial Day.

  • Sampling events, Costco’s claim to fame that guarantees new product trial.

  • Cooking demonstrations that could focus on private-brand offers or can be in conjunction with national brand manufacturers.

  • Local sourcing, highlighting regional specialties and stimulating the local economy.

  • Hosting celebrity chefs or local celebrities. H-E-B, for example, cleverly teams up with local Spurs basketball celebrities.  Book signings are another good example.

  • Store tours focusing on new moms, nutritional or dietary needs, foodies, singles, kitchen novices, and so on.

  • In-store dining, creating a true restaurant atmosphere.

  • Creating a unique experience — think about Jungle Jim’s International Market, a superstore unlike any other. “We’re not just a store, we’re a destination!” Now doesn't that sound like the kind of place you would want to spend an afternoon, let alone shop for groceries!

  • Social media outreach, with active, two-way shopper engagement. Consider Safeway's latest effort to grow followers on Facebook via exclusive coupons for shoppers who "like" the Safeway page.

However, whether organizing date night or sponsoring the local soccer team, it is important to closely match shopper interests. Retailers must understand the community and what moves them. A store tour highlighting items ideal for osteoporosis is probably not going to gain much interest in a young, urban environment. So before you line up the fun, be sure to do your research and understand the unique demographics of your shopper audience.

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