- Growth in e-commerce shopping for healthy and natural products is on the rise, but consumers still rely on local grocery stores, according to research from New Hope Network, in partnership with NMI.
- The study created five general consumer profiles based on consumers' age, lifestyle and values. The well being group, who are proactive and early adopters for healthy products, makes up 26% of shoppers in this space and is the largest group. They spend more than any other group in the channel. Millennials make up 49% of this group, while baby boomers are only a third — but baby boomers spend more. Other profiles include eat, drink and be merry consumers — who don't place a higher premium on healthy items; fence-sitters — who want to be healthy but can't always commit; magic bullets — who want quick solutions; and food actives — representing the mainstream healthy crowd.
- The largest group of consumers said that in the last three months, they'd shopped for healthy and natural products at a traditional grocery store (81%). Other places that consumers said they'd shopped for items in the category include mass merchandisers (73%), drug stores or pharmacies (55%), warehouse or club stores (43%) and online (39%).
Retailers have been chasing millennial consumers for years now, trying to crack their often cryptic, digitally driven codes. It’s an intriguing lot, to be sure. Some of the 22 to 37 year olds have yet to reach their peak spending influence, they’re vastly diverse and their preferences are sure to stick around.
But baby boomers still have tremendous spending power. That’s why it’s wise for retailers to take either a comprehensive approach in reaching across demographics or shift the focus from age to values. On paper, NMI’s take makes plenty of sense: Focus on the proactive, early adopting “leader group” — the well beings — and leverage their enthusiasm in the hopes that it will influence the fence sitter and magic bullet groups to purchase more natural products.
In practice, however, it may be a bit trickier to ignore clear generational differences. Though a 21-year-old can be motivated by health as much as a 65-year-old, that could very well be their only similarity.
Millennials are appealing not only because of their future spending potential, but also because they are socially and digitally savvy. Their social media prowess can make or break a brand in one post, while their e-commerce dexterity can drive higher sales opportunities. But to ignore older generations is dangerous, especially for pricier items.
Retailers could start bridging this gap by simply creating an online presence. This is a critical step to appeal to multiple demographics, as online and brick-and-mortar complement each other, allowing for a spectrum of convenience and in-person opportunity. Younger consumers may not like being required to travel to a store during its hours of operation and parking. But older ones may not want to spend much time online because they can’t physically see or try products online and may have to pay for delivery.
But considering four out of five shoppers went to a grocery store for these products, it is important to retain that business. Grocery stores can foster a sense of community by doing things like hosting walking clubs, offering kid-friendly programs or sending newsletters. Bridging the gap may come down to not just providing a variety of products, but creating experiences as well. Research indicates that the millennial generation craves experiences from their brands, which could be traced to the advent of social media. Boomers didn’t grow up with the same experiential opportunities, but it doesn’t mean they don’t want them now.