How grocer can balance generational grocery opportunities

Tapping into distinct shopping styles is key competitive advantage, says a new report

With several generations now perusing the aisles, the key for grocers is to strike the right balance of engaging target age groups without alienating others, according to a new market research report Four Generations in the Aisles.

The report by Florida-based Acosta Sales & Marketing found that while gen Xers may be spending the most on groceries, millennials are the ones gravitating to the store perimeter with the silent generation staying loyal to its favourite brands.

“It’s about figuring out which categories align best with the generations and then finding where the opportunity gaps are,” said Colin Stewart, senior vice-president of AMG Strategic Advisors, the consulting arm for Acosta.  “Within each shopper generation there are different triggers that retailers need to be aware of.”

The report showed that gen Xers are spending more on average for groceries than any other generation (US$323.10/month compared to the lowest spending Millenials at US$252.60/month).

On the other hand, millennials are shopping the most frequently, making an average of 4.1 routine trips monthly, compared to 3.9 for gen Xers, and 3.6 for baby boomers and the silent generation (those born 1925-1945).

“The gen Xers are often dual-income with busy families looking for quick meal solutions to take home,” said Stewart. “The key for them is convenience and time-savers.”

Stewart said millennials are also becoming an essential part of the marketplace, and as they start to have children, they’re impacting the baby needs categories as well.

He said targeting them successfully is about understanding the right message. “It’s less about using flyers and more about digital promotion,” said Stewart, noting that this group is heavily influenced by their friends and social communities. “They are also more conscious of food ingredients, local sourcing of products and wellness is important to them.”

Yet by drawing in the younger generations, retailers shouldn’t lose sight of the boomers or silent generation either, warned Stewart. “They’re still a huge part of the population who are spending,” he says, pointing to health and beauty or pet categories as good opportunities to target these groups. “As they downsize and become empty nesters, they’re almost replacing their kids with their pets.”

Ultimately understanding the unique characteristics and shopping habits of all four groups is important now because consumers are living and shopping longer than in previous years, believes Stewart. “It really is about striking the right balance across generations,” he said.

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