Grocery’s Struggle for Relevance

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Grocery’s Struggle for Relevance

By Joan Driggs, EnsembleIQ - 03/23/2017

The ever-accelerating pace of change in grocery has retailers – and their shoppers – wondering what food shopping will look like in the years to come. Western Michigan University’s Food Marketing Conference featured a panel of retailer and CPG executives addressing “The Struggle for Relevance” in Grand Rapids, Mich., earlier this week.

Panel moderator Michael Sansolo, research director for the Coca-Cola Research Council North America, used findings from the “Surviving the Brave New World of Food Retailing: A Roadmap to Relevance for the Future for Food Retailers” report to lead a discussion of how the food retail industry will remain relevant through changes in competition, technology and how people are shopping. Panelists included Peter J. Whitsett, EVP, merchandising and marketing, Meijer; Judy Spires, chairman and CEO, Kings Food Markets; and Denny Belcastro, VP industry affairs, Kimberly-Clark.

No longer is "location, location, location" a mantra of grocery. Online retailing will continue to gain momentum, and the onus is on retailers to make the experience easy and convenient for shoppers.

“[Retailers] have to have a compelling value proposition that the consumer wants and needs,” said Judy Spires. “It’s all about giving them what they want, when they want and on their terms.” Spires and Whitsett are among retailers who participated in the study and created the report.

As retailers work to embrace new ways of serving shoppers, both online and in-store, they must also rework their business models.

Said Whitsett: “[Meijer has] done a good job of managing price for products. Now we’re managing price per service.” Meijer recently announced a partnership with Shipt, and will expand home delivery across its six-state footprint in the Midwest.

“Surviving the Brave New World of Food Retailing” is available for download at The report includes a “Retail Relevance Self-Diagnostic” that includes key questions for retailers to work through both internally and with trading partners.