“I Want it My Way!” A Gen Z Take on Grocery Personalization
Here’s one of my biggest daily struggles: grocery shopping. Call me a Gen Z, but I can never fully enjoy my grocery shopping experience. Let me give you an example. I ran out of groceries the other day, so I drove myself to Target. Even though I have my favorite brand of almond milk, stores seem to love offering 20 different other brands of almond milk other than the one I am looking for. In the midst of brand overload, I was disappointed with what I was presented with. None of these brands spoke to me. Buying almond milk should not be this hard! All I wanted was one carton and move on! With some help from eenie meenie miney mo, I headed over to checkout. I tapped my phone to see if I can find coupons for the milk in my cart. But of course! I only had coupons on products I wasn’t buying, like Old Spice deodorant or M&M’s. Old Spice…really?! Why can’t stores give me what I want in an easier way?
What is personalization?
Research shows that people are seeking for their shopping experiences to be more personalized to fit their preferences. According to Forbes, “consumers are expecting, if not demanding, highly personalized experiences” (Hyken, 2017). The concept of personalization for the retail world is nothing new. In fact, it is a buzzing trend. Think of a time you were online shopping for a new pair of shoes. You close the tab from the online retailer, and you move on to Facebook. Suddenly, an ad pops up in the top right corner for the brand of shoes you were shopping for 5 minutes ago. Crazy, right?! This is personalization. Personalization in the retail world is the idea that stores can provide an experience for individuals that meets — and hopefully more often than not exceeds — their very own and personal needs and wants.
Do people want grocery stores to personalize?
Now, let’s go back to my almond milk shopping experience when I was all alone, left to my own devices trying to find the one that spoke to me. Am I the only one looking for some help finding the groceries I really want? Maybe personalization in grocery stores doesn’t matter to most people. To find out where the truth lies, I used the GroupSolver® platform to reach over 100 respondents to answer this question.
First things first, I wanted to figure out whether or not people seek personalization in grocery shopping at all. According to the results, 67% of the respondents find the concept of grocery shopping personalization appealing. Furthermore, 40% find that personalization in this space is just as important as in other kinds of shopping. What this means is that there is in fact a market for people who are looking for this experience. Now we just need grocery stores to speak to customer needs.
What could personalization look like in grocery stores?
Grocery shopping is too generic in my opinion. For me, there is no excitement in finding the items in the store from the list of foods I need. I mostly feel this way because I never leave satisfied (see: almond milk drama). I guess I share a similar sentiment with the survey respondents because when I asked them what personalization in a grocery store means to them, the most popular response was: “personalization means what I prefer” (87% support strength). Some may prefer finding a specific brand, like myself, while others prefer variety in products they buy. Because so many people have so many different preferences, trying to cater to all of them at the same time makes grocery shopping, well, impersonal.
Question: What few words or sentences best describe what “personalization” means to you when it comes to shopping for groceries?
Personalization doesn’t necessarily mean offering the grocery shopper the same branded product they already buy — personalization can help us explore. I’m sure all of us have received coupons or some other type of promotion when checking out. For instance, if you always buy a particular brand of toothpaste, wouldn’t you expect a coupon for that same toothpaste? Or perhaps a similar toothpaste from a different brand? Or for a floss from that brand? I precisely found that respondents want grocery stores to offer deals that apply to them (65% support strength). It’s a waste to receive a discount on an item we do not ever plan on purchasing.
If stores are trying to target customers and create a personalized experience, they need to communicate with them. One way is through sharing offerings that are curated towards people’s preferences. Most people wanted coupons sent to them (81% support strength). Even more specific, Gen X and Baby Boomers wanted these offerings communicated to them through weekly scheduled emails (86% support strength). Gen Z and Millennials, particularly females, wanted samples mailed to them (79% support strength). Regardless of the preferred method, the consensus is that people do want to receive a personalized offering. Personally, if I received an offering on a product or brand I intend to purchase via email, I would appreciate it.
Question: What would be the best way for the store to communicate personalization offerings to you?
Grocery stores have the power to personalize shopping experiences
People like to feel important (I like to feel important). A shopping experience without personalization is not appealing because I feel like just another customer. I want stores to offer the products that I like, as well as having deals on items that I actually would consider putting in my shopping cart. It satisfies my shopping needs while making me feel special. While it may be difficult for grocery stores to fully satisfy everyone’s wants, I have no doubt that there can be some improvements thanks to present day technology. I am confident that grocery stores can use tech to successfully create consumer profiles and begin implementing personalization. If retailers can help me remember which shoes I like, why not help me with some almond milk?
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