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Supermarkets Exploit New Retail Niches in Recession

From the outside, we could think that supermarkets are faceless commodities. After all, if you cover up the sign in front and walk down the aisle of a grocery store, it’s hard to tell one from another. They all sell the same stuff.

Or do they? In an article on innovation in Business Week, author Damian Joseph notes that frugal customers are forcing food retailers to innovate new ways to differentiate themselves. Some methods include:

Supermarket differentiation copyright Paul Johnson

  • Ready-to-eat meals
  • Eco-friendly offerings
  • Self Checkout lanes
  • Smart carts
  • Product Reviews
  • Downloadable coupons
  • In-store baby sitting

Neil Stern of McMillan Doolittle, a retail consultancy in Chicago, points out, “Grocery stores lose or gain about 10% of their customers base each year.”

As the economic slowdown is causing shoppers to look differently at how they shop, the supermarkets that will do well must accommodate the changing needs and desires of their customers.

As Stern notes, “Differentiation works for the retailer who can truly master it.”

Mastery of your niche depends on how well you understand your customers and the points of differentiation they’re looking for.

“Paul, I especially like your points about creating powerful customer experiences. Now our people understand they can stay “in the box” of our policies and procedures, yet still deliver unique and creative experiences to make our customers say, ‘Wow!'”

Giant Eagle Inc.
Larry Reuss, Director

Posted: under Niche Marketing Expert Gallery.
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