Through a special arrangement, presented here is a section of a recent article, from Frozen & Refrigerated Buyer magazine.
By Brian Numainville, principal, Retail Feedback Group.
Grocery independents can thrive if they differentiate and win on the local front. Here's a blueprint.
1. Be 'more local' than the competition. Putting a heavy focus on local items shows support of the local economy and may offer high-quality options to national brands. And independents can be more flexible with what they carry and how they promote the items, relative to national chains.
2. Feed the growing interest in diverse tastes. Ethnic diversity, cooking shows featuring foreign cuisines, internationally themed restaurants and travel abroad have heightened interest in ethnic/international items.
3. Serve as the foundation of the local community. According to the 2012 Supermarket Experience Survey from Retail Feedback Group, 28 percent of shoppers report their supermarkets are very involved in supporting the local community. Some 36 percent believe their stores are somewhat involved, but 33 percent don't know. Apparently, some retailers may need to better communicate their efforts to shoppers, especially as more than 80 percent of consumers prefer shopping stores they see as supportive of their communities.
4. Connect with customers on their turf. Like the old corner grocery store, social media lets you connect with customers on a one-to-one basis through tools like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. While you may not have much sophistication with tools, it is important to explore how they might fit into your marketing mix along with things like mobile marketing and electronic circulars.
5. Respond to customer needs. Our research shows that only 28 percent of shoppers think there is a customer feedback program at their store, while 61 percent don't know. Finally, 11 percent are sure their store has no feedback program. Yet 85 percent of these shoppers say they would gladly use an online feedback tool or call a free 800 number to provide feedback. Get the word out!
6. Remember the basics — stay in-stock. Supermarket satisfaction among shoppers unable to find all items they had planned to buy on their shopping trip averaged 3.97 on a five-point scale, compared with 4.54 among shoppers who did find all items. This is one area of basic blocking and tackling where independents must shine.
Of the suggestions mentioned in the article for how grocery independents should differentiate themselves, which one is important but most overlooked?