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Bulk Nation President: How We Capture Millennial Shoppers

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by Clay Donato/Bulk Nation
Special to The Shelby Report

The only thing constant in the grocery industry is change; opportunities and challenges will always be fast-moving targets. Capturing and keeping the Millennial market is important now and will continue to be into the future. So our industry should respond. In fact, an operator who is ignoring Millennials is setting the operation up for failure.

Clay Donato
Clay Donato

The Pew Research Center, an American think tank, has defined “adult” Millennials as those who were born between 1980 and 2004. The Census Bureau estimates there are now 75.4 million Millennials in the U.S.—half a million more than Baby Boomers. Representing about 24 percent of the adult population and an estimated $1.3 trillion in buying power, this market wants things done their way.

As a Millennial myself (28), I can speak to what my generation wants. They are loyal to retailers they see as socially responsible. They want relevant information, which they primarily receive through social media.

To earn customer loyalty, grocers need to “talk” to them on their terms and target promotions to fit this profile.

Bulk food shopping (which Bulk Nation offers) allows them to control how much they purchase, large quantity or small. And since Millennials are loyal to companies that are environmentally friendly; they appreciate bulk food stores because they avoid much of the packaging and thus generate less waste. Bulk Nation sells exotic spices and flours, dried fruits, vegetables, nuts and candy.new-guestcol-Bulk-Nation-logo

Millennials want the freshest foods possible. Our “truck to shelf” system twice a week provides this. With shopping from bins, the customer can see what they are buying. According to the Bulk Is Green Council (BIG), an organization dedicated to helping consumers learn about the benefits of buying bulk foods, food packaging may limit a shopper’s ability to buy quantities desired. Obviously, this can result in food surplus and waste.

Smaller stores make shopping easier and convenient. The shopper spends less time in a bulk foods store than navigating the big-box stores. Millennials value their time, so it makes for a faster and easier shopping experience.

The popularity and importance of social media will continue to grow with Millennials; traditional media is losing strength. More than ever, Millennials are getting their information through social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest (but Baby Boomers have embraced it, too).

We at Bulk Nation have found great results with social media and email marketing as well as any mobile devices. That is the way to reach us.

Clay Donato is president of Bulk Nation, a Tampa, Florida-based specialty grocer of bulk foods that was founded in 2013. The stores carry more than 3,000 bulk specialty food items, including dried fruits, nuts and vegetables as well as spices, coffees, teas, ancient grains and candy.

There currently are three stores in Florida—Brandon, Largo and Orlando—and five new locations will open this fall: early September in Clearwater/Countryside and Lakeland, followed by Tarpon Springs, Kissimmee and Clermont scheduled for October. According to a July press release from the company, stores also are in the works for Jacksonville and South Florida as well as Oklahoma.

About the author

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Kristen Cloud

A former newspaper editor and publisher, she once enjoyed leisurely perusing the grocery store aisles but, since having a baby in 2016, she is now an enthusiastic click-and-collect shopper.

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