Cindy Novotny

Missing the Old Fashioned Market!

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According to Ypulse Marketing, Millennials are now taking over the grocery store and it may never be the same. This makes me crazy!  Don’t get me wrong, I love the ‘coolness’ of Trader Joes and Whole Foods, but I also like being able to walk into my local grocery store and immediately find the classic brands I enjoy buying.  I find that when I run into Trader Joes, I am forced to buy only green onions in a package or an English cucumber when what I really want is a basic cucumber.  I may enjoy an organic almond butter now and again, but sometimes I want a simple jar of Jif!  

I don’t think millennials are the only consumer who wants healthy, good food.  The reality is, everyone is on the "clean eating" train until they are hungry for a McDonalds.  In recent consumer focus groups, everyone says they want to feel better about the ingredients they serve to their families.  This is EVERYONE – not just the millennial consumer.  For example, recently Kraft announced it would get rid of all artificial ingredients from its famous Mac and Cheese. What is amazing is that Kraft secretly began selling the new natural Mac & Cheese in December and no one knew the difference.  Only consumers who read the package and paid attention to the list of ingredients on the back of the box knew about the change.  Fifty million boxes later…no one noticed. What I find funny is that I grew up in the country and knew that brown eggs came from chickens with brown feathers and white eggs from chickens with white feathers.  But, ask any over the top ‘organic’ buyer and they will tell you that brown eggs are better... wrong!  The only differences are in the food the chickens eat, how they are treated and how they graze. Brown chickens typically are more expensive to buy because they eat more and cost the farmer more to raise. The color of the yolk is really just an indicator of the hen’s diet! 

Now, what I do love about millennials is how they are introducing brands like Fresh Direct, a company who is working to make grocery shopping even more of an immediate gratification with the use of apps that deliver groceries to city-dwelling folks in an hour.  Grocery stores such as Wegmans (who historically has been known for excellent customer service) are creating online personas to earn fans.  They have a huge following on Facebook and Twitter with the young consumer in mind.  But with that said, they have not lost their heritage since it was founded in Rochester, NYC in 1916 by the Wegmans family who still own it.  

Every grocery store chain is trying to reinvent themselves. Whole Foods has a new concept called 365 which will offer convenience and low prices on natural and organic products (note: they did decide to cancel the thought of having tattoo parlors in the store….interesting!)  Kroger’s new chain, Main & Vine was also designed to attract the young consumer and their attitude of fresh and healthy eating.  I guess now that the kids have grown up from pushing their own little kiddie cart to actually shopping for kimchi, everyone is focused on marketing to them.  

So what happens to the boomer who actually buys the expensive USDA Prime (not choice or grass fed) beef at an average of $60.00 per steak, along with the heirloom tomatoes, burrata cheese and the expense bottle of Caymus?  I love all the unique and creative new foods available, but I think there is a real need for the Boomer generation who has money, wants great food, prepared locally, possibly delivered and ready to go.  There is a real opportunity to create some new stores that will cater to this market segment.  

If I had time, I would create a new chain called ‘Fresh Elite.’  You would have to show your ID to get in as there would be no stroller brigades, no spilled ice cream or soft drinks all over the floor.  It would have a bar with a mixologist making cocktails and teaching you new ways to entertain at home.  There would be a classic wine cellar, a true butcher, fresh seafood, unbelievable cheeses, ready-made gourmet food, super service, curb side pick-up, home delivery and all in one service for dry cleaning, banking, pharmacy, urgent care, hair salon, nail salon... just to mention a few.  Don’t forget: this generation has money and is willing to spend it on quality and service.  

Note the picture – curb side started many years ago!  

What is old is new again. But isn't that the way it goes?