Experience is Everything in Grocery

Jim Dudlicek
Editorial Director
Jim Dudlicek profile picture
Food theater ensues as a chef prepares Asian dishes to order at Hy-Vee's Fourth+Court store in downtown Des Moines.

I've been saying it for a while now -- grocery stores are no longer just places to buy stuff. They need to be destinations to experience the wonders of food and the possibilities it presents to deliver on consumers' every need.

The most compelling stores I’ve visited reach beyond the shelf and from behind the counter to inspire shoppers' imaginations as well as their taste buds, and answer a growing list of questions that food-savvy folks have about what they’re eating.

As further support for this idea, the latest edition of the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association’s annual trends publication, "What’s in Store 2018," drives home the point that grocery shopping from this point forward must be about the entire experience, which includes convenience/location, produce selection, prices, store layout and more.

This seismic shift of shopping becoming a destination experience is one of hundreds of findings in the IDDBA’s annual tome, both in print and online, including 150 downloadable graphs and tables, as well as links to white papers and trends articles.

Other findings of "What’s in Store" include:

  • Creating an experience strengthens customer loyalty.

  • Retailers that reflect the communities they serve appeal more to today’s shoppers. "Localism" is a dominant theme to help communities feel connected.

  • Top grocery trends lean toward greater digital engagement, greater access to variety of produce and product information, and meal kit options.

  • Almost 45 percent of Millennials identify as ethnic or multicultural, making the generation the most diverse in U.S. history, with food purchasing decisions no longer based on their lineage or familial customs.

"Multiculturalism is growing in the U.S. and it’s changing the way food retailers and manufacturers look at consumer buying behaviors,” said Eric Richard, the IDDBA’s education coordinator. “The result is a blurring of lines separating ethnic consumer demographics. Retailers in tune with consumer shopping patterns can provide innovative solutions on the changing palates of today’s shoppers."

"What’s in Store" groups its findings into distinct themes: The Economy and Retail Trends, Channels and Competition, Consumer Lifestyles, and Eating Trends. This themed narrative is carried into each of the product chapters bakery, cheese, dairy and deli, which includes the growing "grocerant" world of prepared foods.

Learn more about "What's in Store" at

More Blog Posts In This Series