The age of convenience (shoppers)

Girls jumping in the air

The age of your typical customer should have an influence of the range stocked in store, with older consumers more inclined to eat a nutritious diet while Millennials are found to have more of a sweet tooth, according to a new report.

by Kevin Scott

If a retailer chose to he or she could spend every spare moment of time analysing customers, their shopping habits and everything else about them. Thankfully there are marketing and insight firms all to ready to publish the results of their own efforts. The latest of these is 2015 Grocery Eye, published by Future Thinking, which is an annual independent study of grocery shoppers to identify perceptions towards purchasing and consuming food and drink as well as non-food products.

The survey, somewhat disappointingly, concentrates only on supermarket shoppers which given the strength of convenience indicates the firm behind the survey doesn’t fully grasp the modern grocery industry.

At any rate, the figures make for interesting reading, especially when looking at the age profile of consumers and how this affects what they purchase.

The research shows that 54% of millennials (those aged between 16-34) believe the role of organic products to be important compared to just 30% of over 55, which is surprising when factoring in the cost of organics. Think about your customer demographics – is your store based near a university? Or, are locals more likely to be elderly?

If you do have a high proportion of younger shoppers, it’s worth noting that this younger generation appears to lead less healthy lifestyles. The study found that 80% of 16-34 year olds purchase fresh fruit and veg compared to 96% of over 55 year olds and only 63% of 16-34’s include fruit and veg in their diets compared to 88% of over 55’s.

Furthermore, confectionery is by far, the under 34’s favourite item, chosen by 29% of respondents. Conversely, over 55’s prefer to buy fresh fruit and veg, chosen by 38% of that age group. It looks like diet improves with age.

The over 55 age bracket consider themselves to have the most nutritious diets, with 40% thinking they already have a healthy diet compared to 28% of those aged between 16-34. They are also more likely to look out for low salt foods (29%) and high fibre items (23%), whereas it is barely an issue for those under 35 (14%).

The Grocery Eye also showed that 16-34 year olds feel it is more difficult to get by on their tight food budget, have a greater tendency to snack between meals during the day and look for packaging to fit with their lifestyles, illustrating the changing needs of millennials.

Claudia Strauss, Managing Director of FMCG and Shopper at Future Thinking, says: “There is an unjustified perception that millennials are not engaged with food compared to their older peers. Whilst it is clear that their lifestyles and lower incomes result in their eating habits to be less healthy, millennials are more socially conscious than the older generations selecting brands accordingly. They also engage with foods in different ways, for example, ‘the Instagram effect’ reflecting the way millennials share images of their food on social media on average three times a week. This presents a challenge for manufacturers who need to tailor their food offer, and the way they communicate with different audiences.”

Have you ever considered how younger shoppers could take and share photos of your displays? In-store theatre is key here, and by making it photogenic you could find customers happily providing you with free marketing.

The important thing here though is to ensure that your offering reflects your customer base – that’s a fundamental of any good c-store, and by seeing the preferences of older and younger customers, you can plan accordingly.