The Changing Model of Grocery Stores

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Grocery stores have seen a massive shift in their business models in recent years, with brands struggling to find new ways to engage consumers that place more emphasis on the shopping experience as a value rather than just the goods themselves.

The marketplace has seen a growing divide in approaches to this problem; the online, direct-to-consumer model being pushed by heavyweight online retail giant Amazon sees more opportunity in cutting out the middle man and offering a delivery service that brings fresh produce straight to the consumers door, while companies such as Hy-vee see more value in increasing consumer experiences in store, offering things like grocerants, 24-hour access, a fitness center, various other shopping categories like beauty products or clothing and restaurant quality take-out food. Hy-vee is not alone in this, with other markets offering things like a juice bar or a produce butcher that cuts up produce on a made-to-order basis to enhance the in-store experience.

An example of another approach is the rumored potential for a partnership between Target and Whole Foods as a reaction to the latter’s downward spiral in sales and popularity. A partnership between the two would bolster both brand images, and bring more awareness and access to Whole Foods through the inherent consumer audience that Target can bring to the table.

With big box stores taking a more specialized approach to products and offering local and organic options, grocery stores are slowly emulating farmer’s markets more and more, offering spectacle alongside products and promising support for the local economy rather than repeating the same brands and products that consumers could find in any grocery store they step into. Even aesthetically, stores are looking more rustic and natural with wood accents or furnishings and more earthy color palettes.

Consumers are coming to expect a wider variety of interesting products to wade through and grocery stores are changing themselves from the ground up in order to accommodate.

Adam Hails

Senior insights officer and cultural/behavioral analyst at Culturewaves.

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