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    Knowledge Is Power

    A well-crafted digital marketing strategy can help grocers engage meaningfully with produce shoppers.

    According to a study by Deloitte Digital, digital technologies influence 36 percent, or $1.1 trillion, of in-store retail sales, which will likely increase to 50 percent by the end of 2014. Eighty-four percent of visitors reported using digital for shopping-related activities before or during their most recent trip to a store, and 22 percent of consumers spend more as a result of using digital.

    What makes digitally savvy consumers tick, and why do they buy? Answering these questions is becoming increasingly critical to your store?s bottom line.

    A New Breed of Shoppers

    Shoppers increasingly rely on digital tools to share information with one another and to create ?two-way? conversations with brands and companies. These people are more informed, more engaged, more opinionated and expect more from brands of all kinds. And because they?re quick to share their opinions, they can be a tremendous source of insight to your company and your most powerful advocate ? or your loudest protester. When PMA worked on updating its strategic plan last year, the effects of increased involvement from the digitally connected consumer surfaced among members? chief concerns for the future. That?s why June?s PMA Fresh Connections: Retail event centers on the digitally savvy consumer.

    You might think these digitally savvy shoppers are making your job more complicated, and on some level that?s true. But more importantly, there?s tremendous opportunity for grocery retailers to use digital media, along with a deeper understanding of connected consumers, to eliminate barriers and build consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. To do so, however, everyone along the produce supply chain needs to understand ever-evolving technology and the new ways shoppers make decisions.

    Consumer Demand Speaks

    Doug Madenberg and Brian Numainville, both principals at the Lake Success, N.Y.-based Retail Feedback Group and speakers at PMA Fresh Connections: Retail, have conducted numerous studies on consumers? online shopping behaviors. They find digital grocery technology plays out differently for individual retailers in different regions. They also find success comes from knowing how to optimize your digital strategy to target communications based on customer type, economics, competitive landscape, and other factors unique to your store. Supermarket retailers need to learn more about advances in online shopping, since failure to do so puts their stores at risk of falling behind on responding to a growing consumer interest.

    Along with the rise of the digitally connected world comes a whole new set of variables for understanding the consumer. Another part of the PMA Fresh Connections: Retail program explores ?psychographic segmentation.? This type of consumer demarcation looks at personal data such as values, interests, activities, opinions and lifestyles, rather than demographics, to uncover consumers? needs and motivations, both articulated and unarticulated.

    The presenters, Steve Longley, CEO of Philadelphia-based TPG Direct, and Brent Walker, VP and CMO of C2B Solutions, in Mason, Ohio, say the advantage of psychographic segmentation is that its results are more effective in resonating with a consumer?s motivations and unspoken needs than traditional ways of segmenting consumers, like demographics, deliver. Psychographic segmentation is helping many retailers understand the deeper motives that drive an individual?s shopping behavior, which allows companies to adapt to the needs, wants and values of their target audience and gain insight into purchasing drivers, risk adversity and relationship styles.

    The More You Know

    Part I of Progressive Grocer Independent?s ?Technology and the Independent Grocer? research study focuses on marketing and digital technologies, including online, social and mobile technology. The study finds independent retailers identify sustained engagement, messaging relevance and staying on top of current trends in social media among their greatest issues when it comes to connecting with shoppers today. As the report points out, ?? the challenge in addressing this market isn?t a lack of digital marketing tools; on the contrary, it?s an overabundance of them.?

    The same holds true for grocery retailers of all sizes. No doubt, digital and social media technology move at a dizzying rate. The best defense against not getting lost in all this is to seek industry-specific resources on these topics, such as PMA Fresh Connections: Retail or the new PMA website (www.pma.com), both of which can keep you apprised of the digital advancements and the connected consumer. The new site has a search function that knows what you?re interested in based on your browsing history, and delivers customized content in tune with your interests. So if you?re exploring topics such as digital consumer or social media, you?ll see related articles and information appear on the right side of your screen. Presentations from PMA Fresh Connections: Retail will be posted on the site in the coming weeks.

    After perusing this information, use everything you learn to get reacquainted with your shoppers at the deeper levels necessary to be meaningful to them in today?s digital environment. When you discover where your shoppers? values, opinions and technology platforms intersect with your brand, you?ll have a digital marketing foundation to provide a two-way dialog for delivering what shoppers are interested in and for gaining insight that you can feed back into your digital strategy to further build engagement, loyalty and sales.

    There?s tremendous opportunity for grocery retailers to use digital media ? to eliminate barriers and build consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables.

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