LAS VEGAS — Retailers need to reinvent the grocery store in the wake of the economic downturn, and in many ways that means starting from scratch, said Wendy Liebmann, founder, chief executive officer and chief shopper, WSL Strategic Retail.
“Our role now is reinvention,” she said. “We need to restate the worth of this place. There are so many places to buy groceries. Why are you worth it?”
Among the solutions is “to be the health and wellness store,” she said. Other routes include making the shopping experience easier and romancing the brand.
Liebmann based her comments on her firm's recently released “How America Shops” megatrends research.
She said retailers need to take into account certain factors when planning their futures. The shopper has learned how to stretch dollars and get the lowest price.
“Some 70% of women respondents said they need to get the lowest price on things they buy,” she said. “About 64% said before they buy something, they ask themselves if it's a smart use of their money.
“We have to sell to her, and resell to her all the way to the checkout.”
Demographics, such as age or income, matter less now. More important are shopper types or personalities, she said. Shoppers that appear to have the same demographics can actually have much different behaviors.
“It's the nuances of shoppers we need to understand now,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Internet has finally come into its own as a robust shopping outlet. “It's the only channel that has substantially increased since 2008,” she said. Liebmann cited reasons including free shipping, trust, product selection, deals and coupons.
One shopping channel showing promising increases is small-format discount grocery stores, which include Aldi and Save-A-Lot. In 2008 WSL didn't even track that channel, but in the past two years it has grown very quickly, she said.
Liebmann urged food retailers to ask themselves hard questions and make strides in reinventing their operations.
“Don't assume supermarkets are in good shape in this new retail world,” she said. “Food and grocery are not immune.”