If the post-pandemic era has taught the retail grocery world anything, it’s that shoppers want what is best for their needs.

Mia Boulos, director of sales for NielsenIQ, told attendees of an online webinar, “Mastering Pricing and Promotion,” that a “hybrid opportunity” exists to influence shoppers to make purchases online and pick up their groceries in person.

“We need to simplify what we have on the (supermarket) shelves,” Boulos urges, “based on what is important to shoppers and how that has changed. What was important in the past is not as important today.”

For instance, she points out, there has been a large shift to private label sales.

“Store shelves are becoming fulfillment centers,” Boulos says.

It’s an election year, so experts believe there will be a lot of movement in different economic numbers throughout 2024.

Steve Zurek, NielsenIQ vice president thought leadership, points out the unemployment rate remains under 4% over a stunning 24 consecutive months.

“Things are starting to flatten out, and now we are starting to see (bakery) manufacturers put promotions back.”

The lack of promotional activity at stores during the past few years has led to an odd response from shoppers.

“Shoppers really don’t know what a good deal is right now,” Zurek says. “Consumers are acting in an inflationary mindset but that will start to abate.”

What is unique today is the growing opportunity for online sales.

“A lot of shoppers are finding these categories can be purchased online. The shopping trip now starts at any place and any time,” he points out.

Online ordering

With more shoppers opting to save time by ordering groceries online, Food Lion is making it easier for more of its neighbors in Delaware, Kentucky, Maryland, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia to have fresh and affordable groceries delivered right to their door. Customers in the additional delivery zip codes listed below can use the Food Lion To Go website or the Food Lion To Go app to confirm availability and place orders. The delivery fee will be waived for the first order of $35 or more placed on the Food Lion To Go website or app.

With the click of a button, Food Lion Home Delivery, powered by Instacart, allows customers to experience the same low prices and fresh food items without having to leave their homes. The online service allows customers to place an order and have their groceries delivered right to their front door.

Food Lion continues to expand this service across the towns and cities it serves, highlighting its commitment to making grocery shopping easy, fresh and affordable. With the availability of this service at these stores, the omnichannel retailer now offers Food Lion to Go Pickup or Home Delivery in more than 90% of its 10-state operating area, demonstrating its commitment to customer preference and convenience.

“With the summer months approaching, we are excited to expand our Food Lion To Go Home Delivery services,” said Evan Harding, Director of Digital and eCommerce, Food Lion. “By delivering on our commitment to making grocery shopping easy and convenient, home delivery allows our customers to spend more time on what matters most to them.”

Additionally, by linking their personal Food Lion MVP savings loyalty card to their account, Food Lion customers can use digital coupons and redeem their “Shop & Earn” MVP rewards program savings. Customers can also view their accumulated Shop & Earn rewards on their checkout screen and see which clipped digital coupons will be applied to their order. This is in addition to their MVP discounts, in-store promotions and weekly savings specials.

Customers can visit Food Lion Home Delivery or open the Instacart mobile app on their iPhone or Android device. They enter their zip code and select their local Food Lion store, add items to a virtual cart, choose a delivery window (within one hour, within two hours, or some scheduled time in the future) and check out. A shopper accepts the order on his/her smartphone, uses the Instacart shopper app to guide them through shopping, and then delivers the order to the customer in the designated delivery timeframe.

Bakery To-Go

In other examples, Star Provisions Market & Café, a highly acclaimed gourmet market in Atlanta, offers an innovative instore program called “Bakery To-Go.”

Unique fresh bakery products such as a breakfast scone or seasonal hand pie are offered inside the store and presented in style. This leads to a highly positive experience for the shoppers.

What is most notable about shopping trends involving US consumers overall is that bakery shopping at mainstream retailers is shifting toward a preference for immediate consumption. Consumers are spending more on fresh bakery since 2019. The biggest change – they are stocking up less and buying more on quick trips to grocery stores.

Sally Lyons Wyatt, global EVP and chief advisor, consumer goods and foodservice insights, Circana, said, “Time is of the essence for Americans, especially when it comes to their morning routines. Sixty-five percent of morning eating occasions are prepared in less than five minutes.”

According to supermarket data from Circana, the true impact of inflation in the current economic climate is “less food on hand.” What this means is consumers are not stocking up on groceries at nearly the same rate as pre-pandemic.

In 2023, using all fresh foods before they go bad scored higher than other methods for combatting food cost inflation than other shopping or eating changes, according to Circana.

Also of note, breads/buns/rolls/tortillas rank eighth among the top 10 foods and beverages consumed in-home, trailing carbonated soft drinks (No. 1), fruit (No. 2), and salted snacks (No. 3).

“Snacking is still a lifestyle in the U.S.,” says Jonna Parker of Circana. “Snacking more doesn’t mean snacking better.”

In annual eatings per capita, savory snacks and sweet treats are trending up, while better-for-you snacks are creeping down over the past three years, according to the latest Circana data.

NIQ Brandbank, the global leading provider of digital product content, has launched its new product data optimization solution, Content Health+, designed to empower brands to set the standard and become category leader with insight into category comparison and content benchmarking. This innovative new solution underscores NIQ Brandbank’s continued commitment to digitalize the shopper experience and deliver best in class product content across omnichannel.

Research conducted by NIQ Brandbank highlights that up to 84% of brands fail to claim at least one of the top three most searched attributes that their product qualifies for. With lifestyle, dietary, sustainable and ethical needs at the forefront of shopper minds, brands are being forced to re-evaluate the quality of product information shared with shoppers online and how it compares with their competitors. Shoppers now expect brands to go beyond the back of pack product information to connect with shoppers across the omnichannel from discovery to purchase.

Marsha McGraw, global managing director at NIQ Brandbank commented, “We are excited to unveil our new product data optimization solution, a testament to our continued innovation and commitment to our clients to digitalize the shopper experience.”