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With a full slate of expert speakers, a host of exhibitors representing diverse suppliers, and attendees representing many of the industry’s top retailers, Progressive Grocer’s first Grocerant Summit opened Tuesday at the Hilton Chicago Northbrook Hotel.
Harry Stagnito, president and CEO of Stagnito Business Information, publisher of PG, outlined the first-ever event with a laundry list of trends driving growth in grocery store foodservice, including health and wellness, local products, convenience, fresh, organic and natural – all opportunities for grocers to capitalize upon as points of differentiation in driving repeat visits and store sales.
A further opportunity, Stagnito noted, is tying emotional branding to the customer experience. This point was explored by Christopher Brace, CEO of Shopper Intelligence, in his presentation exploring shoppers’ emotional connection to “Dinner in America.”
Brace said grocers need to connect with parents through a deeper understanding of mealtime, which is quality time that creates an emotional family anchor. Retailers must communicate with shoppers by understanding the emotional triggers behind their shopping and consumption behavior.
A shopper’s most valuable asset, Brace asserted, is their attention, and retailers must strive to win it by connecting with their “emotional truths.” As shoppers stand in line at the deli, he suggested, “what are retailers doing to emotionally connect with them there?”
Changing foodservice landscape
Penny Anderson, director at The NPD Group, explored “Grocery’s Place in the Changing Foodservice Landscape.”
While Millennials and families with children have driven restaurant declines, fast casuals are leading in overall customer satisfaction, prompting other operators to up their game. Grocers have an opportunity with consumers who eat at home to save money but must compete with other emerging channels, including “food forward” c-stores geared toward convenience.
Anderson noted lessons that grocers can learn from fast casuals: customization, craveability and experience. “Consumers have endless choices, so differentiation and relevance is paramount,” she said. Retailers can further capitalize on convenience, freshness and variety.