Grocer’s Dilemma - Revisiting Centennial Shopping Climate

Neha Ghai
January 20, 2023
Grocer’s Dilemma Revisiting Centennial Shopping Climate

At A Glance

  • The grocer’s new shopper is an agile digital native who will drive the landscape of grocery retail
  • Omnichannel convenience is a value the latest shopper now expects and grocers are working hard to shore those capabilities
  • The assortments offered now bear a confluence of global cultures and there is a paradigm shift in the value proposition of the products
  • Digital natives are channelising their capabilities in the centennial wallet share by infusing innovations
  • Grocers though working hard to keep pace with changing consumer values, here is a list of 8 trends that will shape 2023 shopper’s list

There is a changing landscape in the grocer’s shop. The modern shopper is a dotcom born digital native who is accustomed to the complexities that arise of an uncertain economic climate.The hyper connected society in which we live is realigning its core values with a focus on sustainability, affordability, and durability.

Grocers’ value propositions are being reimagined to align with the beliefs of the generation born post 2010. A paradigm shift in the demands and preferences of the consumer is now a norm and not a temporary attitude. Disruptions in the last two years have seen accelerated digital acceptance of e-commerce grocery and food expenses, showcasing the importance of health and spotlighting convenience pricing for the 20s generation. Global cultures have influenced tastes and evolving product offerings is now the only constant. Inflation is an economic instability and will not wither away in 2023. 

The millennial generation has been at the vertex of its impact, weighed upon by seasonal peaks and troughs of essential goods pricing. The value conscious shopper is switching to private label, seeking convenience and negotiating premium quality. The oxymoron of shopping is the fluctuating state of the Gen Xer and grocers need to alternate at the cusp of what encapsulates the Centennial.

Is it sustainability or affordability or an infusion of exotic flavored products heavily influenced by multiculturalism and economic factors?

Let’s deep dive in the anticipated and emerging trends for 2023.

Palatable Nutrition

Grocery is a necessity, nothing new there. However, seasonal grocery served with the appropriate dash of vitamins and minerals can be a wholesome sumptuous meal. An early innovation of the food tech industry that never goes out of vogue is the meal kit service. Customized portion sizes and hyper personalized meals to satiate your taste buds is a healthy offering that matches one’s health requirements and can reduce frequent doctor visits. Some of the brands lay good food on the table just for you.

  • Mosaic Foods - A meal kit service founded in 2018 offering vegan frozen meals sourcing groceries produced locally while reducing food waste. Hand crafted, veggie loaded family meals without any preservatives delivered at your doorstep.
  • Grainful - Founded in 2009 on the east coast by Jeannine M. Sacco and Jan Pajerski. It offers gluten free frozen meals which are a delight for those having gluten sensitivities or those who want to keep a tab on their body weight. Curated with gluten free oats and lentils, their products guarantee the highest quality.
  • Happi Foodi - Founded in 2018 by Sam Rockwell, it offers wholesome chef inspired frozen foods that provide nutrition in a box. Specially curated plant based chicken and keto meals offer progressive grubs in bold flavors.

Flawed impression

Eating healthy is fundamental to disease free living but inflationary pricing and job losses does not augur well for the zillenial. Loyalist at heart but open to bargain deals, these shoppers look for quality produce on tight monthly budgets. The brands tracked below merge quality and convenience. 

  • Misfit market - Founded in 2018 in Philadelphia, the online grocery store makes a well rounded assortment of various varieties of produce from seasonal specialty groceries, pantry staples, and surplus cooking supplies. Strict quality control and affordable pricing makes for delighted customers.The wide selection of groceries are sourced from farms and hubs across America packaged in recyclable boxes delivered across the country.
  • Martie - The female founded online store offers grocery and pantry staples at a 40 - 70% discounted rate compared to traditional grocery stores. With no subscription service requirements it offers great savings and convenience to its customers. 
  • Imperfect Foods - A grocery delivery service founded in 2015 offering high quality ugly looking grocery, surplus pantry staples while impacting the planet by combating food waste. The company is now a certified B corporation in 2021 producing positive benefits for the people and the planet.

Nurturing Greens 

Centennials will be one of the largest consumers by 2026 and recent developments around climate change have brought awareness around decarbonization.The recently concluded United Nation Conference for Climate Change (COP 27) held at Egypt focusses on clean technologies and reducing individual carbon footprints. An endeavor to restore planet health has led to plant based food alternatives in meat, eggs, and dairy. All comestibles have plant based food association seals to authenticate them.

  • New Wave Foods - Craving shrimp but are shellfish allergic? Want to contribute to a healthier planet and save the oceans? Indulge in this FDA approved plant-based mung bean protein rich shrimp that lowers cholesterol while promoting zero calories. Founded in 2015, the Connecticut based company is a team of scientists and innovators joined together in their passion to protect the oceans while offering delicious plant based seafood shrimp.
  • Just Egg - Just found you have egg allergies or have weight issues and high cholesterol? This vegan egg is all you need. Made from mung bean, carrot, and turmeric with zero cholesterol and 67% less saturated fat, this plant-based egg is scrambled, baked, and made into your favorite breakfast pancakes. All your favorite egg recipes in a packaged bottle or wrapped in a box.
  • Good Catch - Founded in 2017, the New York based company offers plant-based alternative fish burgers, fish filets, crab cakes, and Mediterranean tuna. Nutrient dense with protein packed six legume blend of peas, navy beans, fava beans, lentils, soy, and chickpeas offering seafood taste and flaky texture. Creating small impacts is the mission that propels change through people’s plates.

Alternative Healthy Proteins 

Our food preferences are largely determined by our environment and taste sensitivities are individual characteristics mostly predetermined genetically. Alternative technologies in cell culture and fermented meat will regenerate the taste of nostalgia that comes with grandma's pot roast while also conserving the planet. Grocers that factor such generational preferences will be better positioned in the future.

Here are some of the brands that are hungry to offer you the best cultivated meat in a happy planet.

  • Upside Foods - A lifesaving cardiologist wanted to make humans healthier and this led to the creation of a food tech company producing cell cultured meat and seafood. Founded in 2015, headquartered at California, the company created a milestone in the history of meat production in Nov 2022. The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the ‘safe’ consumption of its cell cultivated meat.The meat you consume has been prepared from the cells of a chicken that is running somewhere in its sourced farm and the lab grown chicken is delicious and does not hurt a being. How satisfying is that?
  • Aqua Cultured Food - Food tech startup founded in 2020 specializes in seafood alternatives made from nutrient rich fibers and edible fungi strains using microbial fermentation process to create delicious vegan seafood options without using animal ingredients. Broadening its expansion in the seafood alternatives to include global tastes, it has developed minced dumplings for its partners in the asian markets.
  • Air Protein - Founded in 2019 this unique company creates world's first meat made from elements in the air.Crafted with culinary techniques while producing nutritionally advanced meat from air, this meat has no animal cells. Awarded the Davos World Economic Forum technology pioneer award in 2020, the company is looking forward to feeding the world with its novel technology.

Pawed Family

Generational differences in family dynamics from being large families to nuclear ones are a dramatic shift in parenting. Uncertain futures due to recessionary job cuts and inflationary pricing has led to adoption of more pets, a trend which saw an upsurge in the pandemic. As per the American Pet Product Association, 32% of Millennials are doting pet parents. As they seek premium experiences for their whiskered or furry kids, brands that offer health and nutrition on a platter while offering the right dose of fun are poised to succeed.

  • Pawp - A digital health clinic for pet owners with 24/7 telehealth facility connecting pet parents to the licensed vet docs offering unlimited on-demand visits on video or text. It also offers a $3,000 yearly emergency fund for unexpected bills at a monthly premium of $24.
  • Airvet - The 2020 LA-based telehealth company connects vets with pet parents on a minimum $30 fee per visit.The company has launched two apps one for the vets and one for the pet parents to download. Partnering with vet clinics has enabled pet parents 24/7 access to vets and enabled the vets to conduct telehealth visits online. 
  • WildEarth - Clean high protein pet foods which are renewably sourced is the foundation of this budding company in the pet space. Founded in 2017 its focus is on providing well balanced, deliciously crafted meals, supplements, and koji treats designed with food scientists and pet enthusiasts to reward dogs with good health. 

Hydrating Elixir

In this fast paced lifestyle with an impetus towards holistic living, physical activity promoting good health and mindfulness has taken center stage. Marathon running, extreme adventure sports, and gymming do keep one physically agile but also lead to loss of electrolytes in the body. Being fit and mindful while being essentially hydrated leads one to be energized and enjoy being in good shape. Grocers must promote offerings minus certain ingredients to increase the stomach share in this niche but growing market.

  • Hydralyte -  Looking for peace of mind after a blasting headache from having drinks gone too far, pop the effervescent tablets of Hydralyte that will replenish your body of its lost fluids. Founded in 2001, the electrolyte concoction is available for use in tablets, blocks, sticks, and energy drinks. These drinks are a must try over sports drinks.
  • Hydrant - Founded in 2017, it's a unique blend of essential minerals like sodium, potassium, zinc, and magnesium to refuel active recovery. For athletes who are less tolerant to sugar this is an excellent option. It uses real fruit juice powder to keep you hydrated through your activity. 
  • Cure Hydration  - Founded in 2017, the drink captures the electrolyte mix as recommended by WHO on ORS formulations. Since it contains 4x the amount of electrolytes in leading sports drinks and rehydrates 2x times faster it's a win-win for athletes who want to catch their good feeling after an empowering run.

Euphoric Adam’s Ale 

About a decade ago, Millennials choosing an alcohol free beverage would face the heat at a social gathering, fast forward to Gen Z and there is a dramatic shift in perspective about being ‘social’ and ‘buzz free’. Personal choices around alcohol are respected and consumers understand the impact on mental and physical health. Most shoppers are mindful about their self image and exercise due caution in drinks at fun gatherings. It is integral for grocers to renew their mindset around offerings for next-gen shoppers.

  • Ritual Zero Proof - Founded in 2019, the Chicago-based manufacturer of non-alcoholic spirits curates gin, tequila, and whiskey with natural botanicals distilled and microfiltered to offer delicious alternatives to the rustic originals.
  • Drink Monday - California-based distillery founded in 2019 offers bold flavors in spirits. The Monday Mezcal, a popular drink curated with smoky flavors of citrus lime and floral agave is a tribute to old world traditions for the Centennial drinkers to revel in late night feasts without having a hangover the next morning.
  • Outbound Brewing - Founded in 2019, the California based brewery redefines adult beverage innovating non-alcoholic beer crafted to perfection using high-quality ingredients while featuring small-batch brewing techniques.

Nutritional Nibbles

Snacking is an activity common across generations but the difference in demographic comes when choosing to read labels that offer healthier options minus certain ingredients. The Centennial living in cross-cultural environments often seeks global tastes with an infusion of street foods.Some of the brands that we track offer such culinary experiences with a twist in the preparation of these foods from healthy ingredients. 

  • Iwon organics - Peas and brown rice, a combination not very entertaining but when combusted together, a digestible delicious snack created by IWON organics. Founded in 2016, its protein stix and puffs consumed in a humdrum life is a sweet way to offer good health to your own body.
  • Hippeas - Looking for a complete meal loaded with mouthwatering nutrition, head over to Hippeas. Founded in 2016, the California-based food company offers chickpea based snacks that have dietary fiber, now proved to be a must for a super gut. Weight loss managers often refer to chickpea snacking as an alternative to anything else.The snack is baked not fried, an excellent snacking obsession to indulge in without feeling guilty.
  • Lupii - Pasta and bars often are a no to kids by moms and healthcare providers but cravings never go away. Founded in 2019, Lupii bean pastas are a healthy alternative with the wholesome goodness of lupini beans and chickpea flour developed with good gut fibers and none of the extra carbs. Must try for the pasta fans devouring this yummy pasta without making their kids feel guilty.

Opportunities for the Alpha Grocer 

Diversification is now an expectation from this growing cohort of shoppers that would redefine the landscape of grocery retail. Assortments and product mixes in quality and ingenuity is what would retain your customer loyalty. Grocers need to merge product mix with digital innovations or be prepared for the burgeoning market share between mergers of digital natives, like that of Misfit Market acquiring Imperfect foods. Grocers need to adopt and integrate trends in their offerings or else risk being ‘today’s peacock to tomorrow’s feather duster’.