Why brands must keep pace with changing grocery shopper behaviour

There is an undoubted trend towards brands outsourcing their field teams in response to growing cost constraints. However, outsourcing shouldn’t be based purely on cost savings but take into consideration the broader operational and infrastructure benefits.

One of the biggest challenges identified at the recent Australian Food and Grocery Conference was how supermarkets can juggle consumer demand for lower prices with the increase in business running costs, which includes everything from wages to utilities. 

Households are looking to save every dollar they can as the cost of living continues to rise in Australia, a sentiment backed up in a recent survey by CHOICE which reported nearly half of homeowners are just ‘getting by’ and a third plan on reducing the amount they spend on groceries.

With groceries a key household expenditure, the supermarket industry is fiercely competitive. And while Woolworths and Coles still dominate the grocery space with a combined market share of $62.2 billion, Aldi has grown its share to a record high of nearly $12 billion taken mostly at the expense of Woolworths and IGA.  Yet not all shoppers are driven by price with customer service, quality and store experience also cited as important to grocery shoppers.  Aldi’s rise is, in part, due to cost of living pressures but also by demonstrating it can deliver low-cost, award-winning products

Specialist partners can deliver more than just a greater ROI

With FMCG brands under increasing pressure to perform in-store and margins getting squeezed in the process, there is a need for field teams to demonstrate greater efficiencies and ROI.  CROSSMARK helps brands by using its own proprietary technology, StoreTrack, which has live reporting capabilities to help identify in-store problems quickly, allowing field teams to step in and offer support intuitively as it is needed. 

There is an undoubted trend towards brands outsourcing their field teams in response to growing cost constraints.  However, outsourcing shouldn’t be based purely on cost savings but take into consideration the broader operational and infrastructure benefits.  It should also demonstrate value by achieving better results, greater flexibility and transparency.  Using specialist field partners provides brands with deep market expertise combined with the latest in technology to improve store performance and the ability to view their campaign progress in real-time.

Get the most out of your data

Effective deployment of field marketing teams can also help FMCG brands capture and maintain customer loyalty through in-store experiences and ongoing engagement initiatives. Tapping into individual shopper behaviour and tailoring on-shelf products to specific geographical locations and demographics can help keep brands get ahead. 

Australia’s changing ethnicity is also impacting food trends and preferences. The recent Census showed that Australia will soon be officially more Asian than European with Australians born of Australian parents a minority.  That heritage is reflected in grocery choices. Food trends are leaning towards Asian ingredients and recipes, which is reflected in the type and variety of products that supermarkets are putting on shelf. 

Get the basics right – can’t sell what isn’t there

Individual store analytics help to pinpoint trends by allowing field staff to react with a tailored solution based on specific store needs. If a product is rapidly disappearing off supermarket shelves, the field sales team can plan accordingly and adjust the frequency or time of visits to help rectify the problem. For this reason, on-shelf-availability is integral to helping brands maximise sales.

While price will continue to shape shopper buying habits, customer service and in-store experience will remain equally important as supermarkets carve out their niche.  Coles and Aldi are proactively chasing price driven customers, Woolworths appearing to focus a little more on quality and choice over price. And on the horizon, new players such as Lidl and Amazon looking to make moves into the Australian market

Winning over the grocery shopper may come down to many factors, but delivering an in-store shopper experience that ‘wows’ customers will be a key ingredient for FMCG brands looking to build brand loyalty and advocacy in an increasingly ROI driven world.