Big brands are learning that they can't continue to thrive by doing the same old things that they've always done. Grocery shoppers are changing their preferences and their habits. To keep their place in consumers' cupboards, companies must adapt to the new habits and desires that inform shoppers' behavior when they enter the store. The following four points are a few of the most important changes for brands to track.
1. Traditional Meals Are No Longer a Tradition.
The family dinner table is becoming a relic. These days, it has become far more common for people to graze throughout the day. While the habit of eating three meals a day is documented as far back as ancient Greece, the past several years has seen it go the way of the chariot for nearly half of all American consumers. In place of full meals, people eat small snacks throughout the day. Often, they'll lean toward protein-rich choices, such as protein bars, jerky and nuts.
People tend to be busier and spend less time sitting down and eating. Bite-sized, handheld versions of favorite foods are likely to score well with those who don't want to stop for a formal meal.
2. Shoppers Want Things Simple.
Grocery shoppers are, increasingly, becoming label readers, and they want what they see on the back of the box to be simple, with short lists of ingredients with names that they can understand. People have an inherent distrust of multisyllabic ingredient names, no matter how safe the ingredient may be.
To keep your company competitive, find places where you can choose simpler ingredients that are like the ones that shoppers will find in their own kitchens. Removing artificial colors is one area where many food makers are working to make labels simpler. General Mills, for example, has taken artificial colors out of their cereals. Their iconic Trix cereal will now feature strawberry and beet based dyes in the red pieces and will eliminate the blue and green altogether since natural substitutes could not be found. In the fast and fresh category, Panera and Subway are leading the charge in moving toward all-natural ingredients.
3. It's Every Man, Woman and Child for Themselves.
Far fewer homes have a "primary shopper" these days. Each consumer has their own specific tastes, and they are far more likely to do their own shopping to fulfill them. Smaller packages or packages with single servings featuring a range of flavors can help meet consumers' desires when it comes to this trend.
This diversity also means that, when it comes to marketing, you don't just have to appeal to mom. By developing segmented marketing efforts that appeal to each likely group of shoppers separately, you can increase your chances of winning each customer's business.
4. The Modern Shopper Has a Refined Palate.
Shoppers are more likely to look for high quality items that are out of the ordinary. They want meals that are inspired by faraway lands. They are more likely to pick out spicy and exotic foods.
Americans travel more and are more open to foods inspired by other cultures. Adding an exotic flavor to a food that is familiar can be a winning strategy. Frito Lay has offered spicy rolled chips in Latino markets for many years, and, recently, the brand has begun offering the same fiery seasonings in the US with their Doritos Dinamitas, which come in Fiery Habanero, Chili Limon and Nacho Picoso flavors.
Over time, we will continue to see grocery shoppers change what they buy and what they eat. Keep aware of food trends and allow the customers to shape the meals, snacks and other foods that you offer. By keeping an eye on what the consumer wants, you can keep your brand relevant and keep your products on top in American kitchens.