Younger consumers shop differently for groceries

Price and offers or promotions are crucial for many 18- to 30-year-olds when shopping for groceries. This emerges from a study in German speaking Europe by the consulting firm Institute of Brand Logic, which identified four additional relevant criteria.

In addition to price, important factors are the quality and taste of the food (80 percent), a range that enables a conscious and healthy diet (67 percent), and the regional orientation of the retailer (60 percent). This is followed by socially and fairly produced food (59 percent) and ecologically and sustainably produced food (52 percent). Digital solutions (27 percent) and trendy foods (25 percent) are in last place here.

The fourth criterion that the study authors identified is the curiosity of the younger generation. 69 percent “very much” or “like” trying out new products, trends and dishes. Accordingly, 60 percent of food retailers would like more relevant product information regarding usage options and food ideas, but also health aspects and supply chains.

Nutri-score pressures food makers to improve

Research by economists into the composition of ultra-processed products in France, the UK and Italy has revealed that recipes in France have improved over time. With France being the only country of these three that has implemented the Nutri-score, the researchers conclude that manufacturers have modified their recipes to raise their score. From the introduction of the label, retailers had already understood the benefit of Nutri-score to promote their own brands, making sure that the products contained less sugar, less salt, and less saturated fatty acids, thus achieving a higher score. 

Apparently, in a context of heightened competition between national brands and private label, Manufacturers’ brands are starting to modify their recipes, too. It is said that one in three French people considers the Nutri-score to be decisive when choosing a product.

Self-checkout a hit in the Nordics

A study by Swedish Uppsala University and software developer ID24 among over 100 retail chains in the Nordics shows that the grocery sector is one of the leaders in the use of self-checkout systems. Many retailers are integrating mobile app scanning.

Some 62% of retailers operating in the food sector use self-checkout systems. Most retailers use self-checkout for reasons of a faster process for consumers as well as a means of reducing staffing costs. Interestingly, overall, retailers did not perceive a positive association between self-checkout adoption and generating higher sales.

Undoubtedly, the greatest challenge associated with deploying self-checkout systems emerging from the survey is theft, which was indicated by 89% of respondents, of whom 29% noted theft as being an extreme challenge.

Despite the challenges associated with the adoption of the mobile app feature, grocers remain committed to further investing into their mobile app technology due to the steady increase in customer usage.

One in four Germans buys household staples online

Last year, 23% of Germans aged 16 to 74 years old said they had bought products like food, detergents, or cosmetics online in the last three months. 

Online purchases have become particularly popular in the 65 to 74 age group. Here, the proportion of those who shopped online rose from nearly 55 percent in 2021 to almost 62 percent two years later.

Customers are eschewing ultra-processed foods

A survey by trade magazine The Grocer of 1.000 adults shows a great leap in the importance of health. No less than three million consumers in the UK have started avoiding ultra-processed foods (UPFs) in the past three months.

Research from the EIT Food Consumer Observatory, combining a survey of 10.000 consumers from 17 European countries found that 65% of European consumers believe that ultra-processed foods are unhealthy, and that they will cause health issues later in life.

More than two-thirds of consumers (67%), for example, believe UPFs contribute to obesity, diabetes, and other lifestyle-related health issues.

Furthermore, 67% of European consumers state that they do not like it when their foods contain ingredients they do not recognize, and four in 10 (40%) do not trust that ultra-processed foods are regulated well enough by authorities to ensure these foods are safe and healthy in the long term.

UPFs include packaged snacks, soda, sugary cereals, energy drinks and chocolate bars, as well as foods such as ready-made sauces and dips, ready meals, and salad dressings.

Despite consumers’ health concerns, 56% admit to eating UPFs at least once a week, citing convenience, price, and taste as motivations. 

Private label in US produced record-setting sales

In 2023, own brands continued to be the brightest light in US grocery food and nonfood. 

Unit sales were nominally even, off by only 0.1%, compared to national brands which shed 2.8%. Own brand unit share came in at 20.7%, an improvement of 0.5 points from 2022 and setting a record. Dollar sales rose by 4.7%, compared to a gain of 3.4% for national brands. Own brand dollar share moved up to 18.9%, ahead 0.2 points from 2022, likewise a new high. 

In arguably the most important metric, annual private label dollar sales moved ahead to $236.3 billion, an increase of $10.1 billion from the previous year and establishing another all-time mark. 

Private label in the US is on a four-year winning streak. Compared to 2019, annual dollar sales in 2023 increased by $60.2 billion, a gain of 34%. Own brand dollar share rose 1.2 points to a record 18.9%. During the same period, Private label unit sales were ahead by 500 million and unit share improved 0.8 points to 20.7%, also a new high.

AI seen as inevitable for retailing

AI is the central digitalisation trend in the industry, according to an EHI survey among German retail marketing managers. 82.4 of respondents see AI as an important marketing trend which has the greatest potential in marketing.  

AI is already used in personalizing communication with customers, for example through chatbots that respond to individual wishes. In addition to creating texts and images, artificial intelligence can also analyze and link customer data. As a result, 
the programmes offer increasingly better opportunities to analyze and predict customer purchasing behavior in order to optimize sales. With over half of respondents say that marketing is moving increasingly towards customer centricity, tools to help focus on individuals become all the more important.

Finally, more than a third of the retail managers feel that AI could change jobs or create new ones, although that would require (new) employees familiar with generative AI.

Gen Z wants self-scanning, self-checkout, checkout-free

A study among 4.000 shoppers in the UK and the US, commissioned by Avery Dennison, found that 52 percent of Gen Z would “switch to another store if their favorite decided to get rid of self-checkout.”

Two-thirds (67%) of those polled would opt for retailers that offer self-scanning at the end of a shop, while almost three-in-five (59%) stated the same about self-scanning as they shop.

Furthermore, 49% would be likely to spend more money with a retailer that has a connected or automated checkout experience, and 52% say connected stores would make them more loyal to a retail brand.

Nine of ten polled have experienced some form of frictionless shopping in the last year including self-scanning, self-checkout, full check-out free stores and try at home before you purchase services.

Half of Portuguese only buy sale products

A study by Kantar shows that 51.3% of Portuguese consumers’ purchasing occasions include products on sale. 77% of respondents say they compare prices and choose the cheapest brands. Overall, last year, purchases of fmcg increased by 8.1% in value and decreased by 4.4% in volume compared to the previous year.

While over the year, the Portuguese increased the frequency with which they go shopping and decrease the volume purchase each time, both trends slowed down compared to the previous year.

Private label continues to gain relevance in Portuguese households, with a growth of seven percentage points in value share between 2020 and 2023. Private label purchase frequency increased by 4.4% between 2022 and 2023, with a significant increase of 19.4% in the amount spent by consumers on these brands.

On data, Europeans trust grocery retailers over non-grocery stores

A study by Deloitte and Ahold Delhaize into European attitudes on the use of consumer data by grocers shows that European consumers trust grocery retailers with their personal data more than non-grocery retailers, financial institutions, and digital and social media platforms.

The online survey was conducted across 15 countries and 15,000 respondents with the objective to stimulate a wide-ranging discussion around data ethics, the responsibilities of companies and their responses to the regulation of personal data in line with consumer expectations.

Consumers in general are willing to share their personal data, with age and current online behavior being the two parameters that have the strongest correlations to consumer data perceptions. There is a greater willingness to share personal data among younger consumers and those who shop online more frequently. Grocery retailers are seen as highly trustworthy, but consumers have high expectations when it comes to transparency, choice, and control, over what data is being collected and how it is used.