The Food Journal and Food, Nutrition & Science

An alliance between The Lempert Report and The Center for Food Integrity

Shopping Trends for the Modern Consumer

Shopping Trends for the Modern Consumer

Dietitian Dialogues

July 31, 2007

Shopping Trends for the Modern Consumer
by Harriet Solar, guest columnist
Our customers are savvier today. They read nutrition facts panels, allergen labeling and ingredients. They devour articles on health and nutrition. They inquire about diet trends like Atkins and the South Beach Diet. They are concerned about weight control and how certain products affect those with diabetes. They want to know more about nutritional supplements and many other issues related to ingredients, their sources, and why they are present in foods. They want greater availability of ethnic foods.
Over the last few years, consumer grocery shopping trends have changed considerably. The frequency of shopping has increased, cost saving behaviors have grown in importance, and health questions of all kinds have jumped to the forefront of decision-making at the store level. As population dynamics shift and consumer insight about nutrition grows, retailers will need to adapt their practices to meet the needs of the modern consumer.
We all want our customers to come back and stay loyal. Here are some of the ways we can meet the challenge of serving our customers better.
Celiac Disease
Our main health concern for the past decade has been with Celiac Disease, a disease that is an inherited autoimmune condition that damages the small intestine and interferes with the absorption of nutrients. Customers with Celiac Diseases cannot tolerate gluten – a protein found in wheat, rye, barley and oats. In 1990, one in 10,000 individuals had this condition; today the frequency is one in 133. Therefore, supermarkets need to meet the needs of these individuals. Educating consumers about a gluten free diet, and providing access to gluten-free products is essential in combating this condition. It is a life-long dietary regimen that must be followed by these consumers.
Organic foods are a high priority on many customer shopping lists. Sales of organic foods grew 22% and totaled nearly $17 billion in 2006, representing 3% of total retail sales of food and beverages in the United States – according to the Organic Trade Association. Conventional supermarkets accounted for approximately 31% of total organic food sales, while natural food supermarkets accounted for 24%. Independent natural food stores netted 22% of organic sales. Organic dairy grew 27% and organic produce grew 7%. The message here is clear. Organics options need to be available to the consumer.
Country of Origin
Customers want to know the Country of Origin for many products. They are also interested in their ingredients. Much of this interest comes from concerns about the safety of our food supply. Retailers can educate their customers about food safety, demand more checks and balances on imports, and stay informed about the practices of their suppliers.
Customers Incentives
In many families, both parents are working. There are also a growing number of single working mothers trying to provide for their families. Thus, time and money are important considerations for shoppers. They want to get the best quality foods at the least possible cost in the shortest amount of time. We can meet this challenge by providing them with high quality fruits, vegetables, and meat – primary concerns of the modern consumer. We can also provide a neat clean store, food specials, friendly employees, fast check-out, and personal safety.
Many busy people want “grab and go” options. Our Kroger family of stores feature special deli carry out areas for the lunch and dinner shoppers. Additionally, other conveniences are helping to make the shopping experience more pleasant and efficient. Kroger stores provide fresh seafood and meat, aisles dedicated to gourmet foods, health and nutrition, and organic and natural foods, floral and photo sections, baby club programs, home furnishings, wine shops, self check-out, banking, pharmacy, food demonstrations, cooking classes, and fuel stations – just to name a few.
Reward Programs
Finally, reward programs really bring customers back in the store. Our Kroger stores have special shopper cards and reward programs that keep customers loyal to private label products and to the store in general. We put the customer first with great people, great products, good prices and a great shopping experience.
Harriet Solar, RD LD, has served as the Head Corporate Dietitian for The Kroger Co. for 13 years. Prior to her work with The Kroger Co., Solar lent her expertise to both private and city hospitals, the Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Ohio and New York, and the Nutri-System Weight Loss Program in Cincinnati.
U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics
Organic Trade Association
L. C. Lancaster and David Stillman, When Generations Collide
As a nutritionist working for a supermarket, you have a unique outlook on how retailers are increasing health awareness at the store level and the kind of questions that shoppers ask. Each month, we'll be featuring a guest column, written by a nutritionist, that communicates this point of view on a variety of topics. And we want to hear from you. If you are a supermarket nutritionist interested in sharing your perspective and insights, we would love to help you share your thoughts! Please contact Allison Bloom at