With brand loyalty on the decline, grocery stores must continually find new ways to differentiate themselves and earn their place in customers’ shopping routines. A clear trend in the current retail environment is experiential stores: grocery retailers incorporating unique, premium-feeling experiences into their business models to lean into the idea that grocery shopping can and should be fun.
According the Nielsen research, 61% of global survey participants believe that grocery shopping at a store is fun and engaging. The same survey found that 57% think that shopping for groceries in a retail store is “a fun day out for the family.”1 Already an inherent benefit to in-person grocery shopping, this feeling of fun and engagement can be heightened with experiences designed to provide a community feel and promote shopper satisfaction. These can include wine and alcohol tastings, recipe classes, cooking demos, tasting booths, subleased shop-in-shop kiosks from other retailers, and even live music.
The International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC) reports that in a survey conducted by Coldwell Banker Commercial, 74% responded that such experiences would make them more likely to shop at a given grocery store. This percentage jumped to 89% for Millennial respondents of ages 30–34.2In a recovering economy, people are willing to spend their money and respond to stores that exhibit a high-end, quality feel.
In addition to promising survey responses, these kinds of experiences can promote real brand loyalty when implemented successfully. Wegmans has implemented multiple of these kinds of strategies designed around making its stores feel like destinations rather than merely shopping centers.
As reported by BRR Architecture, the results are impressive: “In 2015, more than 4,000 people reached out to Wegmans requesting a new store be built in their neighborhood. And in 2011, 25,000 people came to a store opening in Norborough, Mass. (the town’s population is just over 14,000). There were no freebies, opening specials or sales, and still the queues lined up thousands strong.”1
This approach is also greatly facilitated by staff buy-in. All of the fancy displays and premium offerings in the world can be tarnished in a customer’s mind by a rude or unhelpful interaction with an employee. While cheerful, helpful, friendly staff members only add to the experience and promote even further the sense that shopping in your store is an experience more than an item on the to-do list.
Consider planning the space for such displays, booths, and kiosks when designing your store’s layout in the construction phase. Leaving adequate space for premium experiences such as café seating and tasting booths throughout the floorplan, rather than just in the larger deli/bakery and produce areas, can maintain the high-quality feel of the experience throughout the entire shopping trip.
- Report: “The Future of Grocery: E-Commerce, Digital Technology and Changing Shopping Preferences Around the World.” The Nielsen Company. Apr. 2015. Web. 10 Nov
- Article: DeHaven, Kylie. “Four grocery trends to keep watching in 2017.” BRR Architecture, Inc. 30 Jun. 2017. Web. 8 Nov. 2017.
- Article: “Trends for 2017.” International Council of Shopping Centers. Jan. 2017. Web. 12 Nov. 2017.