CHICAGO -- Retailers have to fill the needs of contemporary shoppers to succeed longterm, Michael Sansolo, senior vice president of the Food Marketing Institute, said here last week.
The challenge is to recognize changing demand and figure out how to adapt, he told the Speaks session at last week's annual convention of the Washington-based FMI.
One of the toughest challenges may come as today's 15- to 24-year-olds mature into tomorrow's consumers. "Among that group, 39% says they eat out at least three times a week," Sansolo said, "yet this is the group we must capture because these are the people we want to be our core shoppers of the future."
While supermarkets are holding their own as the primary source for categories like breakfast cereals, meat and poultry and frozen foods, their share of pet foods has shrunk to 41%, compared with 27% who buy those items at discount stores.
"And 25% of shoppers told us they do the majority of their supermarket shopping in what we used to call non-traditional formats," Sansolo said, with supermarket operators acknowledging that their toughest competitors -- which traditionally have been other supermarkets -- are now supercenters, especially those run by mass merchandisers.
Joining Sansolo on stage was Daniel R. Wegman, FMI chairman and president of Wegmans Food Markets, Rochester, N.Y. "We're in a constantly changing world," he said, "and the things we've done for 20 years or more may not necessarily be the things we'll be doing in five years.
"What each of us needs to do is to figure out how to differentiate ourselves from the competition and how to operate in more efficient ways."
"For example, the supercenter is convenient for people who want to do one-stop shopping," he said, "but for the shoppers who want to run in for a meal on the way home from work, that format won't work."