How to Appeal to Multiple Grocery Customer Demographics
Embracing Cultural and Generational Changes in the Grocery Industry
In a rapidly changing world, it’s more important than ever for retailers to understand and cater to the types of people who frequent their stores, and the grocery industry is no exception.
By 2020, millennials will make up 19% of the population, with baby boomers dropping below 20%. At the same time, minority groups are growing in number.1 The Hispanic population in particular is expected to make up 31% of the US population by 2060.2
What all these customer demographics have in common is grocery shopping. This puts grocers in a unique position. How do you determine what you should be selling and how you want your store and brand to be perceived?
Don’t Try to Be Everything to Everyone
The first thing you should invest in is market research. Having in-depth knowledge of who your actual customers are will help you design your inventory and store presentation for their needs. If you try to cater to everyone, you run the risk of losing the distinguishing features of your brand.
Do some research on the makeup of the neighborhood where your store is located. What is the average age, ethnicity, household size, and income? A survey might be in order: you can include it on receipts and offer a chance to win a small prize.
Ask for zip codes to determine how far customers are traveling to visit your store, and then dive into the demographics of those locations as well. Watch who tends to come in and also who is frequenting your competitors, and note the differences in customers and what differentiates you from competing stores.
Give Your Customers What They Want
Once you’ve got a good understanding of who your primary shoppers are, it’s time to make sure you’re meeting their needs.
Improving the Shopping Experience for People from Different Cultures
For a customer base that has a significant number of different ethnic backgrounds, you can group international foods in their own aisles or sections to make it easier for people to find all the items they need. This is also helpful for other shoppers to identify where to find ingredients if they’re planning to make new recipes they haven’t tried before.
Think beyond products as well. To help make minority groups more comfortable at your store, you could include multiple languages on your signage and incorporate décor that’s inspired by different heritages and traditions – just be sure to include people from those backgrounds in decisions to ensure it’s done in a tasteful way. It’s also useful to encourage employment applications from bilingual people to make communication between customers and staff easier.
Catering to Multiple Generations
The expectations of baby boomers helped shape the way grocery stores function, but today that generation is beginning to shrink. If boomers still make up a large portion of your shoppers, you may want to consider larger print on labels and shelves and making sure you have a competitive pharmacy and wellness products to encourage boomers’ loyalty.
To appeal to millennials, whose shopping patterns tend to be much different, you’ll want to focus on freshness and convenience. Items like prepared foods and ready-to-heat meals are popular. Also think about the possibility of offering online ordering with pickup and/or delivery options for busy young professionals and families.
Making Grocery Shopping Enjoyable Again
A recent NGA survey revealed that 10% of respondents said they did not enjoy going to the grocery store.3 Chances are you have some customers who feel this way as well. If you make the experience of being in your store more pleasant than others, you’ll have an advantage over competitors for this segment.
Besides keeping your space clean, organized, and well-lit, you might consider making changes to the atmosphere of your store. A sweet shop setup can be a great way to increase the appeal of your grocery by adding a homey feeling with tasty treats and enticing aromas, and private labeling your products can help boost customer loyalty.
Attracting New Customers
Once you understand your target market and have made adjustments to improve their shopping experience based on their needs, you can focus on continuing to delight your loyal shoppers while attracting new customers to your store. Wine or beer tastings are a great promotion, and you can pair with gourmet popcorn from your sweet shop for more fun. Find ideas for good popcorn flavor pairings for wine and beer.
Seasonal events are also an effective way to bring in more of the community to experience what your store has to offer. A summer barbecue theme or fall market can help you connect with the 35% of NGA survey respondents who said they enjoy the social experience of going to the grocery store.4
Of course, reasonable prices, high-quality foods, and friendly service are always factors for shoppers as well, so keep a pulse on these areas as you adapt to changing customer needs.