Viewpoints

A Presidential Candidate's Guide to the Supermarket

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Congratulations, Mr. Candidate, you've made it to the last phase of the presidential election. This is the time to really be on top of your game, particularly when it comes to understanding the lives of typical voters. And what can be a more common voter experience than going to the supermarket? So it stands to reason you'll want to know more about supermarkets to better connect with voters. We think it's SN's duty to provide this information. So here are key terms and trends to study now.

  • Trading Down: This doesn't mean switching from your political party to the other one. It refers to supermarket shoppers switching products or types of stores because of price. This economy is forcing many consumers to trade down. They don't necessarily want to, but feel compelled. If you, as a candidate, can show you feel their pain, and come up with reasonable solutions for the economy, you could win them over. If not, you may be trading down your plans for the Oval Office.

  • Product Launches: Don't confuse this with adding a politician to a presidential ticket. Instead, it points to the flood of new items coming on the market each year. Supermarkets want to make sure they are first in line to get these items, but many retailers would also prefer fewer launches in order to rationalize overcrowded shelves. A key point here: About 80% of new products will fail, according to industry estimates. Imagine if 80% of your proposals failed. You'd become a victim of what supermarket executives call SKU reduction.

  • Loyalty Card: This isn't proof of commitment to a political party. It's a tool to identify and cater to a supermarket's best customers. Statistics show that about 10% to 20% of a store's shoppers account for the lion's share of its business. You might think, who needs the masses if I've got a loyal 20%? Unfortunately, that philosophy won't work for you on Election Day.

  • Health and Wellness: This isn't about the health of your polling numbers. The point here is consumers are increasingly concerned about their well-being. They want to separate truly healthy product choices from those riding only on savvy marketing. Sophisticated storewide initiatives have emerged that rank the most healthy products throughout an outlet. These efforts, with names like Guiding Stars and Overall Nutritional Quality Index, are supposed to help consumers figure out which choices make the most sense. Wouldn't it be interesting if there was a system like that for choosing candidates?

  • Sustainability: Not to be confused with winning a second term in office. More consumers want to feel they are supporting the environment. Marketers are embracing this trend with new packaging, ingredients and other elements. As one example, some cleaning products are being reformulated so they will be friendlier to the environment. But here's the kicker: Those products had also better clean well. If not, they will fall out of favor faster than a candidate who comes up short in the debates.

That's the end of our free primer. Good luck, and best wishes from the supermarket aisle!

Contributors

David Orgel

David Orgel is executive director, content & user engagement, of Supermarket News (SN) and its website, SupermarketNews.com. Orgel delivers his opinions on industry trends through a bi-weekly...

Carol Angrisani

Carol Angrisani is an associate editor at Supermarket News. Along with covering the packaged goods beat, she also manages SN’s annual private-label and ethnic marketing supplements. Carol...
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In their Viewpoints columns, SN editors give their perspectives on current industry issues.

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