The Relationship Economy

Part 2: The Emergent Credo for Food Retail Growth

October 4th, 2016 Posted by food experiences, Retail brand building, retail brand relevance, Supermarket strategy 0 comments on “Part 2: The Emergent Credo for Food Retail Growth”

Planning Insights to Leverage the Changing Dynamics

In part 1 of The Emergent Credo for Food Retail Growth we explored the changing dynamics impacting long-term success and growth of Food Retail in the U.S. Here in Part 2, Emergent, the healthy living agency, provides insights to leverage these changing dynamics for your marketing plans.

For consumers, food is a high involvement category. They are ready and willing to get involved with retailers who understand and respect their lifestyle interests and goals.

Supporting these food-centric consumers requires a strategic pivot from transactional thinking to relationship thinking in the business and marketing plan. This can best be described in three words as: help-over-hype: helping the consumer over simply hyping the product benefits.

By focusing your marketing efforts to address consumers as three-dimensional people rather than targets and engaging them as you would a friend rather than a prospect, provides the kind of authentic connection people are looking for with others and with products and services they care about. This is the “humanization” of marketing.

We will witness increased humanization of supermarket marketing strategy through the deployment of respected experts in external and store communication, including:

  • The Chef: Inspiration and Creativity
  • The Farmer: Source and Craftsmanship
  • The Culinary expert: Guidance and Learning
  • The Wellness Agent: Curating Choice and Managing Lifestyle

What role does food retail serve in this new eco-system of food friendly culture and desire for better quality?

It’s all about the food – its preparation and social experiences around the table. Thus, retail can own an important position as the architect of cooking inspiration, enhancing kitchen skills and menu ideas, providing expert healthy lifestyle guidance, while offering unique culinary experiences and sensory adventures inside the store.

All of these insights bear a common element: putting the consumer at the center of strategy and looking at the business in terms of solving their health, wellness and culinary lifestyle needs.

Four key strategic guideposts inform the recipe for growth and success:

1. Higher purpose must drive the entire retail concept and plan.

People buy belief as much as they purchase products. You mission should be front and center in the business plan. And that purpose needs to be a real, human relevant purpose not just maximizing shareholder returns and P&L objectives.

2. Relevant content, information and guidance provide the grist for customer engagement.

Help over hype is the litmus test for effective engagement at a time when consumers run in the opposite direction from self-serving sales messaging.

3. Validation is required to secure trust and belief.

The deployment of outside expert, third party voices and influencers are vital to credibility and to securing the trust of your customers.

4. Store experience closes the deal.

What happens inside your stores is the last mile to a lasting relationship. When your store inspires culinary adventure, and serves the interest in healthy lifestyle – you have the right formula for an enduring and profitable relationship.

By embracing the consumer fully in strategic planning, you immediately increase the levels of salience and relevance to their needs and interests. Retail businesses now operate successfully when relationship building is at the forefront of go-to-market strategy.

After all, we’re now living in The Relationship Economy.

Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent, the healthy living agency. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies.  Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for  higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

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