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What’s the recipe for retailing relevancy?
A seamless experience, effective marketing, superconsumers and well-trained people – that’s according to Mike Eardley, president and CEO of the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association, who delivered his keynote address Monday morning at IDDBA 17, the trade group’s annual expo in Anaheim, Calif.
Changing shopping patterns, from grocery and c-store to drug, mass and online – demonstrate that consumers “rarely have a monogamous relationship” with shopping, Eardley said. With the growth in online sales, retailers need to commit to providing a seamless omnichannel experience and establish a “genuine emotional bond” with consumers, he said.
And that needs to happen soon, with deep discounters like Aldi and Lidl coming on strong and Amazon.com aiming to become a top-five grocer with the next few years.
Consumers really haven’t changed how they eat, just how they get what they eat, Eardley asserted, so retailers need to market to specific need states: “If we deliver on the need, we will get the business.”
Prepared foods is not so much a trend in and of itself as it is a key component of “making my life easier,” Eardley said, insisting the grocerant experience “needs to be seamless, fast and ready when I want it,” and that experience needs to educate, inspire and educate.
Retailers need to cater to so-called “superconsumers,” shoppers who overindex in key categories important to supermarket deli and prepared foods. For example, consumers who buy cheese at above-average levels should be aggressively pursued with ideas to expand their usage occasions and boost sales. IDDBA is currently working on a research study to identify the industry’s key groups of superconsumers, Eardley noted.
Finally, the industry needs to do a better job at attracting, retaining and inspiring young talent to be the next generation of leaders, Eardley said, noting the trade group’s internship and mentoring programs.
“Without attracting the right people to lead our business, none of this [innovation] can or will happen,” he said.
Other Monday morning speakers included author and workforce researcher Eric Chester, who spoke on more effectively engaging employees. “When you grow your people they stay; when they stop learning, they leave,” Chester said.
Doug Rauch, former president of Trader Joe’s, discussed the importance of reducing food waste, or as he suggested it should more effectively be phrased, wasting food. Reducing the levels of wasted food will be crucial to addressing the concerns of a new generation of “aspirational” consumers much like recycling was important to those coming up over previous decades, Rauch said.
The extent of the problem? “If food being wasted was a country, it would No. 3 behind China and the U.S.,” Rauch declared.
Rauch also argued for the creation of a company culture that more effectively connects with consumers. That culture, he said, is “the difference between whether your customers will applaud you or walk away.”
Rounding out the morning was a Q&A with Food Network celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis, who discussed her culinary evolution and took audience questions before her presentation in the Show & Sell center after the conclusion of the general session.
IDDBA 17 continues through Tuesday. Watch for additional show reports on progressivegrocer.com and live coverage, including video interviews from the show floor, updated daily on PG’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @pgrocer and @jimdudlicek.