business news in context, analysis with attitude

ACNielsen has released a report prognosticating about five key trends for the coming year in the health and wellness area:

• “This year, expect a surge in food and beverages touting low glycemic index (GI) claims,” the report suggests, with antioxidants also generating double-digit sales growth because of increased health and obesity awareness.

• “Dollar stores have an opportunity to seize market share from other value retailers by expanding their price point and offerings,” according to ACNielsen. “In 2005, the average purchase at a dollar store was $12, while mass merchandisers saw an average basket of $43. To steal some of this wallet share, expect dollar stores to become mini super-centers by introducing non-traditional products, including fresh and frozen sections.”

• “Beer is ready for a comeback,” ACNielsen says. “Consumers have demonstrated a desire for experimentation, and brewers are responding. Expect to see a slew of flavoring innovations designed to broaden the appeal - and usage occasions - of beer. Robust flavors like bourbon cask ale, winter ale and pumpkin spice are targeted toward core beer drinkers, while milder flavor-seekers will be pleased to see the continued launch of seasonal beers such as blueberry, strawberry passion and citrus.”

• Expect a “boomer blacklash.” ACNielsen writes that “not all boomers are created equal. Younger boomers are still busy juggling families and careers, even as the older boomers are entering retirement.” Younger boomers are going to rebel against “the advertising tactics aimed at Boomers entering their golden years,” and marketers looking to be effective will have to take these feelings into account: “The marketers that give both the older Boomers and the younger Boomers the attention that each deserve will ultimately be the ones who win the marketing war and the big boomer dollars.”

• ACNielsen also suggests that the time seems to be right for the supermarket to evolve into a more service-driven entity, focused less on convenience than in the past: “Expect a new emphasis on customer service as grocery stores hire nurses or health consultants for basic prescription writing and assisting in complicated medical-related questions. The return of customer service will extend beyond health and wellness, fueled by technology. With front-of-store applications, such as scanners and self-checkout becoming commonplace, look for savvy retailers to place experienced employees in the aisles, assisting customers with purchasing decisions and recommendations. Whether helping someone read a label, reaching for a product on a high shelf or recommending a wine to pair with an entree, more assistance will be available throughout the grocery store.”
KC's View:
Some of this may be wishful thinking, especially because it will require strategic rather than tactical thinking on the part of an industry that seems to be more comfortable with being efficient than effective.

But these are all apparently accurate prognostications about where things are likely to go, and how retailers can take advantage of the complexities of the modern consumer and differentiate themselves in the marketplace. The good news for food retailers who act on these trends is the likelihood that they won’t have a lot of company in the segment, making differentiation a little bit easier.