Holidays Cross Cultures at the Grocery Store

Donnie Broxson
President, Acento Advertising
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Holidays Cross Cultures at the Grocery Store
As the United States grows increasingly multicultural, holidays are adapted to include traditions and cuisines from various countries

Norman Rockwell would hardly recognize many of the offerings at my family’s holiday table. Texas pecan pie is set alongside my mother-in-law’s Vietnamese egg rolls. Our culturally expansive family comes together around favorites that reflect an eclectic mix of both personal and adopted traditions that represent our cross-cultural DNA.

We’re not alone. As American cities become increasingly multicultural, holidays are adopted and adapted so that what’s “traditional” to serve to friends and family includes a celebratory mix of comfort foods that evoke the home country, along with new American additions. 

Recognizing and responding to this diversity and the changing trends in how America’s changing population eats and shops – not just during the holidays, but also year-round – can help smart grocers become an integral part of consumers’ grocery shopping habits.

For traditional grocers and specialty markets alike, the holidays present significant opportunities for those looking to capture a larger share of the shopper’s basket.

Here are some of the trends that are impacting the shopping experience, and how grocers can serve up an improved experience to build brand loyalty:

Invite Customers to Know Your Brand

Shoppers across the cultural spectrum pull out all the stops for the holidays, merging their own traditions with those of the United States. The celebratory meal is a demonstration of love and shared experience.This is the time of year to invite them to know your brand.

Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Americans will consume about 68 million turkeys, along with tons of traditional side dishes. The holiday season drives shoppers to the market like no other time of the year. While most holiday food shoppers rely on habit or convenience for store selection, new immigrants and diverse young Millennials are looking to connect with brands and are shopping to find the best experience in terms of selection, price and convenience. Your marketing program must issue an invitation to discover what you have to offer.

Once they’re in the store, offering the product assortment that responds to your customers’ shopping preferences, and forming a real connection by creating an in-store experience that welcomes diverse customers, can help convert your first-time shoppers into repeat customers.

For example, by thinking carefully about what’s in your center aisles versus the perimeter, fully leveraging end cap displays, and what products and smells greet customers at your main entrance, grocers can create a welcoming, relevant environment. Local store managers are the best resources for understanding the nuances of the local community.

Merchandise 'Ethnic' Food Across the Store

Cuisines from all parts of the world are being infused into consumer meals across America. “Ethnic” food doesn’t have to be relegated to a single aisle, but should be spread throughout the store.

A Latino household may celebrate the holidays with turkey, dressing and green bean casserole, but there may also be tamales or molé. No doubt you have plenty of turkeys for roasting and potatoes for mashing, but what about pork butt and masa for tamales? Caribbean families often serve pernil, a traditional pork dish. Korean families may serve kimchi, while a Middle Eastern family table may feature basmati rice stuffing made with pomegranate paste, goat cheese and turkey stock. The savviest grocers know their community and leverage a cross-cultural approach to be more inclusive and create a meaningful connection.

Help Shoppers Create Their Own Traditions

Millennials are “adulting” by looking for ways to create traditions of their own while focusing on healthier options and convenience. Ask yourself how you’re appealing to this market segment.

Younger consumers – especially Millennials, a particularly diverse segment – are breaking away from the traditional food pyramid that they grew up with, choosing healthier, socially conscious alternatives. This means less reliance on meat and processed foods in favor of plant-based options. A 24-7, always connected work culture means that these healthy choices must also come in convenient packaging. Give them a compelling reason (i.e., selection, personal attention, ambiance) and reassure them that you have what they need. 

Go Omnichannel

Everyone needs a holiday helping hand, so use social media, online and in-store as an opportunity to provide tips, ideas, recipes and valuable coupons, because while shoppers seek fresh, quality meal items and a friendly experience at the store, they also appreciate a good value.

Brands like Goya Foods (not a client of Acento Advertising) do an admirable job of addressing customers’ unique culinary interests through its social channels and in-store activations a quick scroll through its Instagram account reveals recipes for adobo-brined turkey and chorizo stuffing.

Investing in your social media presence by sharing tips, recipes, special discounts and information about cooking demonstrations and other events will build your visibility and memorability among your customers.

When you look at the holiday season from a more complete, cross-cultural perspective, you can create deeper meaning in the customer journey for your diverse clientele. As an advertiser, if you focus on only one aspect of it, you miss creating a meaningful connection with your audience, and consequently forfeit sales. For today’s grocery chains and food brands, that means looking more deeply into the shared human values and motivations behind holiday meals to establish a relationship with new customers that will carry through the coming year.

About the Author

Donnie Broxson is president of Acento Advertising, a premier U.S. Read More

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