Grocery stores across America are having trouble living up to consumer expectations. BARE International recently reported on a study of national customer experience where grocery shoppers consistently rated American supermarkets as mediocre or worse. Among 26 stores ranging from small, locally owned businesses to national chains, mystery shoppers gave 62 percent of stores less than satisfactory scores. Businesses that see this as a wakeup call would do well to focus on attracting the largest up and coming consumer population—Millennial foodies. And, for groceries, that means revamping the deli where protein bites offer a range of opportunities.
By 2050, Millennials—those young adult consumers born in the last few decades of the twentieth century—will make up 50 percent of the consumer population globally, vastly outnumbering the older buyers like the Baby Boomers. In order to stay competitive, grocery stores must focus innovation on this demographic. Fortunately there is a great deal of research that offer insight into the shopping habits of Millennial foodies. The Shelby Report, for example, indicates that:
- 56 percent are home cooks who work with meal starters that offer flash frozen ingredients.
- 53 percent of Millennials will first look at protein on a nutrition label then vitamins, calories, sodium and trans fats.
- 40 percent would be willing to retry brands from their childhood if they used healthier ingredients.
- 31 percent would return to the brands of their childhood if they featured exotic flavors or interesting preparations.
- 50 percent use grocery store ads and store loyalty cards in order to save money.
For grocery stores hoping to increase their customer experience rating, the deli counter offers opportunity through the sales of protein bites, meal starters, interesting preparations, exotic flavors and healthy ingredients.
Transforming the Deli
Millennials are already hitting up the deli counter for lunchtime and dinner on the run, and breakfast and snack times over even more potential for sales. Delis that offer exotic and interesting protein bites like jerky, for example, could potentially amp up their snack time shopper sales. When looking at ways to make the deli more inviting to millennials, try incorporating these tips shared by ICC/Decision Services:
- Grab-and-go breakfast is currently an underserved market. Include ample amounts of protein and trendy preparations, such as wraps or southeast Asian inspired flavors
- The most frequently purchased prepared items are rotisserie chickens (77 percent) and cold cuts (60 percent), while sushi and fresh sandwiches each rated at 14 percent in purchases
- Freshness is most important, while millennials want to purchase meats with no nitrates, minimal processing, and all-natural or zero additives
Connecting with Customers
Millennials want to feel connected to their grocery store, like they’re part of a community. This can be hard to do when so many stores are missing the critical human element, but this can be rectified by having knowledgeable deli counter clerks willing to answer questions regarding the freshness and quality of meats. Young adult grocery shoppers are an ethically-minded group, so having a friendly face that knows where cuts of meat were sourced—whether they came from sustainable farms with humane standards—can be critical. Millennials want to talk to the butcher at the counter to find out the truth about the history of meats before making their protein purchase.
This connection will help secure store loyalty as well.
Offering Millennials Options
Delis that incorporate Millennials’ habits into their offerings will find it easier withstand the difficulties facing supermarkets today. Millennial foodies are more interested in specialty markets where they can find locally sourced, authentic foods sold by clerks who are passionate about their products. Supermarket delis that take this information to heart and transform their services and offerings accordingly will have the greatest hope of holding onto the all-powerful millennial buck.