Supermarkets can help facilitate new and exciting cultural experiences for their shoppers.
In an article last week on Bloomberg, writer Megan Mcardle poses the question “Why is Italian food so amazing?” New Yorkers know. The rest of the U.S. deserves a taste of what the Italian diaspora brings with it.” And further into the article she goes on to suggest something interesting - that tax incentives offered by towns around the country could attract the “real deal” restaurateurs that seem to be scarce outside of a few large cities. The rest of the country where processed food wins could use a little more authentic food culture.
While Mcardle is talking primarily about Italian food, the concept of expanding the food palates and cultural offerings across the lines of many types of cuisine is one that today’s shoppers are likely to find appealing, and supermarkets are in the position to facilitate the relationship.
We are seeing more supermarkets incorporate the dining experience with the store’s grocerant, offering creative menus, craft beer, coffee and juice bars, and cozy gathering environments.
And ethnic foods continue to stretch out with more shelf space in stores and higher interest from consumers. Popular food video platforms and blogs are leading the way in educating a new crop of food enthusiasts that aren’t necessarily “foodies” but just people interested in changing up the menu at home, exploring new ways to cook, and find entertainment in the lifestyle and stories that accompany the Instagram feeds and videos of food bloggers and chefs.
The growth of food halls is also a fascinating trend to follow as more people flock to these large open facilities with fresh food being prepared before their eyes, a range of cuisines, and the experience of communal dining.
It’s happening. Your shoppers are hungry for the “experience” of food. And while there may still be a lot of cars in the drive through lines, online sales are expanding, and delivery…well that’s another trend with a life of its own that is evolving rapidly, most consumers still visit the supermarket.
The task at hand for supermarkets is to find a way to marry convenience and experience. Maybe even slow them down a little with more open cooking demos and samples, but here’s the twist. Seek out the authentic Italian cooks, the real sushi chefs, the masters of Mexican cuisine in those “hole-in-the-wall” restaurants in our cities. Bring them to your store as special guests to really teach people about the traditions and “experience” of their homeland food.
We are living in a time where while we can celebrate on our own American traditions in food, shoppers show signs that they are not afraid to try new things, and as they do on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, they are all about “sharing” thoughts, information, and ideas.