It’s been quite apparent that Millenials (people born between 1980s to early 2000s) shop very differently than those born before them. This demographic have also been loosely called the “Connected Consumer” since they grew up with technology that gives them information readily available at their fingertips. They are constantly on social networks, talking to their friends and family about what they should be buying. They compare prices, looking for the best deal available by price-matching and leveraging digital coupons. They are less afraid to shop online, sometimes even going in to retail outlets just to touch and feel the product before going home to order the product. These are but three examples of how Millenials have been noticed to shop differently.
Following the economic downturn, other consumer demographics (Generation X, Baby Boomers, etc) have also changed the way they shop for daily consumables. The focus on price has never been greater. Retailers and manufacturers alike are all trying hard to find a way to keep shoppers loyal to them while stealing other retailer’s loyal shoppers. They have closely monitored these behavioral changes the past few years and have started to respond. Here’s a few examples of retailer response and how the trend that the retailer picked up on.
What is the world’s largest convenience chain most known for? It’s Big Gulp Slurpees? It’s Big Bite hot dogs? It’s coffee? No matter what it is known for, there has been minimal association with “health”. Seen in parts of the United States, the world’s largest convenience store chain is now re-branding and re-positioning itself. While Slurpees and Big Bites are still very important parts of their business, branching out to emphasize healthier snacks such as fruits and bread shows their change to target Millenials, females, and the generally health-oriented shopper. They have also started to integrate free Wi-Fi (who doesn’t nowadays) in an attempt to create a welcome atmosphere that permits you to hang around even longer. A smart move since their core positioning of convenience has not changed; it is only re-purposed to communicate to a broader set of consumers.
Have you noticed all the retail changes this past year? Recently we have noticed continued attempts at consolidation: Sobeys buying Safeway, Target entering Canada, and Loblaws buying Shoppers Drug Mart. The retailer’s dilemma shifts from getting the shopper to buy more, to simply getting the shopper to come through their doors. Most retailers are now trying to get “back to the basics” and open smaller stores to compete within the urban market. No Frills – Loblaw’s discount banner – is experimenting with a smaller (10,000 sq ft) retail concept store called The Box. Catering to the urban community, The Box offers discounts on food and general merchandise similar to the regular No Frills. Urban communities typically do not have access to these discount stores given the space these stores typically need to operate. Loblaw’s is certainly not the first retailer to try a smaller format of its stores, as Walmart (Walmart Express) and Target (CityTarget) also have smaller stores to provide convenience to the urban community.
Despite the current list of websites offering groceries online (grocerygateway.com, well.ca, skyrisefoods.com, e-zgrocer.com, etc) there does not appear to be one name that can offer groceries online across Canada. That changed with Amazon.ca’s recent entry into the Canadian landscape. While their product offerings still does not provide fresh food, increasing the type of products available allows them to expand their reach and puts them on the list of approved price-match retailers for Walmart, Loblaws, and the like. Since consumers are less afraid to compare & contrast prices, shop & buy online, and read & write product reviews, Amazaon.ca’s entry into the retail landscape is significant.
While there are many ways retailers are changing to match up with today’s consumers, these are but three examples of what they are doing. It all starts with understanding what the shopper’s preferences are. Is it convenience that matters most, or price? 7-Eleven re-positions and re-brands itself. Loblaws is opening smaller stores. As we see from the above examples, it’s a little bit of both. What changes have you noticed?