June 17, 2019 / Trend

The Grocery Glow-Up

The evolving landscape of retail has shaken many industries, inspiring brands to innovate in a forward-thinking strategic manner. The inevitability of sustainability, the increasing emphasis on experience and inclusion of new tech is forcing established brands to reshape not just their structure but also their culture.

The grocery store or supermarket has been a retail space that has remained stagnant for a long time; until very recently. As other retail brands are stepping up their physical space, food stores are catching the trend, with boutiques and super chains mimicking the experiential stores; putting consumer needs and values at the forefront of their world.

Sustainability is a huge component in the super-market revamp. With 400 million tons of plastic produced globally every year and 91% of it not being recycled, the need for supermarkets to change their plastic habit is essential.

Recognising that 60% of consumers in both the US and UK are likely to switch to more environmentally conscious brands, Waitrose is planning a huge overhaul, currently trialling bringing your own containers for pasta, rice, frozen fruit, cereal and wine with refill zones.

Morrisons is launching plastic free fruit and veg sections, with 127 varieties of fruit and veg plastic-free or in recyclable paper bags in the new sections. Boutique grocery stores have been influential in the uptake of this trend, with packaging free store Precycle already implementing a ‘bring or buy’ recyclables system.

Sustainability isn’t the only trend to which stores are reacting: New York’s Japan Village is exploring heritage and identity within its store. Consumers are able to authentically learn about traditional Japanese foods, buy from casual vendors and browse a craft space, which sells authentic Japanese products.

Thematic and technologically-influenced navigation is also entering the grocery industry. London’s Windfall Natural incorporates the living nutrition trend, mixing food with health care. Cross-category sections with titles like ‘Trouble Sleeping’ showcase how we can tailor our food to help our circadian rhythms.

New York’s Habitat features tech-enabled navigation, with a mobile-driven app that helps consumers find specific items. Offering more than just a click and collect, the store has a concierge on staff, helping customers who want the ultimate personalised experience.

In the future, we should see the grocery store experience flourish. From innovative tech to cross-category navigation, food stores are starting to change. Sustainability will become a necessity and not simply a PR stunt, essential for any store to thrive.

Key Insights

  • Experiential concepts do not lie solely within the fashion and beauty realm. Consumer-based companies and brands are following suit, incorporating many of the moments from these forward-thinking industries.
  • Consider sustainability. As consumers’ mindsets change, brands should evolve along with them or risk consumers jumping ship to more eco-friendly brands.
  • Supermarkets should be innovating and future proofing stores. The more sustainable, innovative and human-centric approaches will gain loyalty and intrigue from the ever-growing conscious consumer.

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