Supermarkets in North America grew by approximately 12 percent in 2020 from an historical growth rate of 1 to 2 percent a year due to more consumers eating at home during the pandemic according to McKinsey. When choosing a grocery store, websites like Statista indicate consumers traditionally consider the quality of fresh produce as an important factor but this is behind location, overall prices, and overall value of the store. Price and value will continue to be big considerations in the supermarket as consumers are bracing for food inflation as high as 22% according to a KPMG report. Throughout the past year, consumers increased their focus on wellness which in turn helped grow the fresh fruit and vegetable categories. However, affordability is increasing in importance, and consumers are demonstrating bargain-hunting behavior and we are once again watching the growth of private labels.
As price and affordability become major purchasing factors, the question is how do we add value to the produce department to entice increased purchases. IFPA proprietary research indicates that US consumers most value prepacked/net weight produce and new varieties.
This is consistent across both age and gender. While in the past many retailers tried to increase value by offering samples and recipes, these offerings do not seem to satisfy the needs of consumers.
IFPA consumer sentiment research unveils the reasons why consumer purchase specific fruits and vegetables. Understanding which commodities are price-driven helps supermarkets understand where promotional efforts can be most effective such as categories like melons, grapes, berries, and avocados.
Almost 40% of consumers indicate the media does not help them make decisions on purchasing fruits and vegetables.
This offers the industry an opportunity to have greater influence by honing their messaging and through better use of media outlets. Using the same IFPA consumer sentiment research retailers can refine their messaging by understanding how consumers are using different commodities. For instance, highlighting the snackability of fruit or the versatility of avocadoes, tomatoes and mushrooms for everyday meals can increase their value.
The pandemic and tumultuous current events increased the presence of depression and anxiety in customers creating impatient and sometimes rude consumers. At the same time supermarket employees are laboring to keep shelves stocked and customers happy. IFPA research uncovered that one third of consumers feel impatient when the shelves are not full while 17 percent struggle when the department is crowded with customers. At the same time Replicant reported that 75% of Americans say that customer service has worsened over the pandemic.
Join us at The Retail Conference, June 9-10 in Schaumburg, IL, to discuss how we can create value and soothe the impatient customer in the produce department.