IDDBA Show 2019 Shines a Light on Change & Opportunity
ORLANDO, Fla. — Today, grocers, convenience store operators and other foodservice retailers do business in a space full of new challenges and opportunities, but as International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA) Chairman Rick Findlay pointed out at the group's recent annual show, change isn't coming — it's already here.
Findlay, who also serves as vice president of fresh at Fresh Thyme Farmers Market, discussed some of the most important changes during the opening general session of the 2019 IDDBA Show.
"Consumers no longer shop in the same manner they did before," he said. This includes venturing beyond the local supermarket to other channels and specialty stores, but it also means consumers are actively seeking out new flavors, tastes and products. At the same time, they still enjoy eating at home and turning to their personal go-to comfort foods. The key to success is identifying how consumers have evolved and adapting to meet their needs today.
The market for natural and organic offerings is growing significantly as consumers try to cultivate a lifestyle in which they eat healthier, feed their family better and live longer, according to Findlay. "It's growing well ahead of traditional groceries," he noted.
Plant-based products and alternatives to traditional items also have skyrocketed in recent years, outpacing overall food sales by a factor of 10, the chairman cited. "That's simply a trend we can't ignore," he cautioned show attendees.
Dairy is still relevant, with many consumers purchasing both milk and substitutes like almond milk, so the right move is to find a balance and offer both, he advised.
Lastly, Findlay advised attendees to look outside the grocery industry and be aware of and learn from competitors. E-commerce, frictionless brick-and-mortar stores and specialty stores all offer consumers a different way to get what they want. He also highlighted convenience stores as an example of competitors that leverage their strengths, specifically offering a time savings to "time-crunched" consumers who want to be in and out quickly.
"True to their name, they offer convenience," he said of c-stores.
A Double-Click Culture
Other retail insights provided during the general session came from Kevin Ryan, founder and CEO of Malachite Strategy and Research, a consumer packaged goods- and foodservice-focused insights and innovation agency.
Ryan discussed the ways that digital activity affects consumers' perception of the real world, and what it means for IDDBA Show attendees. This includes a "double-click culture," in which consumers assume everything has a deeper story and they have the ability and right to see it. "Everything is a hyperlink," he said. One response to this world view could be adding transparency cues, such as QR codes on products, which can provide more information.
The plethora of choices consumers have online can also lead people to feel as if a better deal is always around the corner, and too many options can overwhelm them both online and offline.
Ryan also noted that despite advances in artificial intelligence (AI), driverless vehicles and frictionless checkout, some consumers feel anxiety over the rising level of automation. Eventually, some retailers will and should re-add more human interaction, he said.
"We're going to have to have those conversations within our companies," Ryan said.
The 2019 IDDBA Show took place June 2-4 at Orlando's Orange County Convention Center.