by Peter Larkin/ president and CEO, National Grocers Association
Special to The Shelby Report
We here at NGA are gearing up for The NGA Show, which will be held Feb. 12-15 in Las Vegas. And as we begin to look forward to the show, I find myself thinking about the areas where independents can excel in 2017.
Key points of differentiation
Perishables, particularly in the meat and produce departments, will remain an area where independents hone their focus. Independents continue to focus on identifying that niche of what their customers want, such as specialty in-house smoked meats or local sourcing of fresh produce, and will work to meet and exceed their customer’s expectations.
While independents are likely to excel in the perishable departments, they aren’t willing to give up the center store. Independents are eager to push the envelope, and the center store is no exception. This includes working with CPG companies to execute promotions and opportunities that may be more targeted toward a specific customer or demographic.
The focus on the customer will continue to be an area of differentiation, which includes the ability to evolve to meet the customer’s needs and expectations. This goes beyond basic customer service to possibly include implementing or growing a home delivery service or curbside pickup program, to developing new formats that can better serve the ever-changing demographics throughout our local communities.
If you look at the setup of our expo floor for The NGA Show, we have developed a number of pavilions to allow attendees an opportunity to focus on key areas of their business, from meat to produce to technology, and a lot in between. Focus on these key areas will carry into our education seminars and general sessions. Our goal is to give our attendees the necessary tools and resources to go back to their companies and execute a strategy that will ensure they are able to continue to differentiate themselves in the marketplace.
Finally, involvement in the local community will be an area of differentiation that will become more essential, especially in the age of instant communication through outlets like social media. Support for activities such as little league or a cancer walk, or perhaps providing meeting space for community groups, will be important, and an area where independent grocers can really set themselves apart from the competition.
New/emerging areas of opportunity
According to a Pew Research analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data, nearly 59 million immigrants have arrived in the U.S. since 1965, and if demographic trends continue, immigrants are projected to account for 88 percent of the U.S. population increase, or more than 100 million people, as the nation grows to 441 million people. Further, young immigrants have expanded the Millennial population to 75.4 million, which now has surpassed the Baby Boomer generation.
Independents need to be able to meet the changing ethnic customer as demographics continue to shift. Retailers and wholesalers need to embrace this shift and adjust their offerings to serve this demographic.
From product offerings to properly trained employees, those retailers who are agile enough to change along with their customers are positioned to be successful in 2017.