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Survey: When it comes to grocery shopping, dad’s role evolves

BY Allison Cerra

BOSTON — Dads are taking on a new role: primary grocery shopper.

According to Cone Communications’ "2012 Year of the Dad Trend Tracker," more than half of fathers surveyed said they are the primary grocery shopper in the household (52%) and 1-in-3 moms said their partners have had more influence on grocery store purchases over the last few years (35%). Before heading out to stores, Cone Communciations said that dads surveyed also exhibited the following behaviors:

  • Sixty-three percent of dads said they create a detailed shopping list (versus 65% of moms);

  • More than half of dads surveyed said they collect coupons or read circulars (56%), versus 62% of moms. After price and quality, respondents also noted that the No. 1 purchase influence is a coupon (37%), rather than product benefits (20%) or brand name (14%);

  • Fifty-two percent of dads plan meals for the week, compared with 46% of moms; and

  • Almost one-quarter of dads (24%) perform background research on grocery products, compared with 11% of moms.

"This research goes against all stereotypes of the ‘Father Knows Best’ dad who doesn’t concern himself with domestic responsibilities," Cone Communications president Bill Fleishman said. "Marketers need to recognize the growing number of dads in the supermarket aisles who are taking their roles seriously and can benefit from brands who provide tools and shortcuts to make shopping easier."

When it comes to how they shop, most fathers surveyed said they turn to in-store promotions (57%), advertising (50%) and such traditional media as newspapers, magazines and television (40%) when making purchasing decisions. When looking at all online channels together, however, it turns out more than 2-in-5 dads (44%) seek out online sources — online media (18%), product websites (15%) and social networks (11%) — for information.

"Marketing to the sexes has always been looked at as needing two distinct approaches, but the lines are blurring," Fleishman said. "Roles may be shifting within the household, but we’re finding that dads are not acting so differently from moms in their approach to grocery shopping. This is good news for marketers because it means we don’t have to rewrite the playbook. By understanding the nuances between them, we can actually use the same strategies to reach the primary grocery shopper in the household, whether it’s mom or dad."

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Meijer celebrates 50th anniversary of supercenter concept

BY Antoinette Alexander

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It has been 50 years since Hendrik and Fred Meijer opened "Thrifty Acres" in Grand Rapids, Mich., marking the birth of the nation’s pioneering supercenter and an innovative concept that grew into a retail phenomenon.

"They didn’t realize it at the time, but our father and grandfather were making history when they opened ‘Thrifty Acres’ in June 1962," stated Hank Meijer, co-chairman. "The store offered groceries and general merchandise and enabled customers to enjoy ‘one-stop shopping.’"

Since then, the retailer has followed a course of steady growth, expanding into five Midwest states and employing more than 60,000 people in 198 stores, four distribution complexes and several manufacturing facilities.
During the last few years, Meijer has invested in new and remodeled stores, expanded distribution facilities and new technology to help serve its customers better.

"We have always tried to leverage innovation to improve the shopping experience," added co-chairman Doug Meijer. "From the introduction of checkout scanners in the 1970s to the more recent launch of digital technologies, such as our Meijer Find-It App and Mperks digital coupon program, we have worked hard to help our customers save money."

Meijer also has been known as a company that supports the communities where its customers and team members work and live. Each year, Meijer donates more than 6% of its net profit back to the communities it serves through a variety of charitable partnerships.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first supercenter at its original location, Meijer will host a customer appreciation picnic on June 16 at its 28th Street store. This store opened in August 2010 and replaced the original store, which was remodeled and opened as the first supercenter on June 6, 1962. Some of the original wooden arches that supported the roof of the original store now welcome customers at the parking lot entrance.

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At its shareholders meeting, no one questions Target’s strategy or results

BY Mike Troy

CHICAGO — Canned peaches, criminal records and political contributions were among the top shareholder concerns expressed at Target’s annual meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

The meeting, held inside a soon to open CityTarget store in downtown Chicago, lasted less that an hour and featured a brief recap of the company’s 2011 performance from chairman, president and CEO Gregg Steinhafel. He touched on previously disclosed details regarding some of the company’s key strategic initiatives, such as the 5% REDcard Rewards program and the PFresh store remodeling program. Both are key drivers of Target’s improved financial performance and enabled the company to produce a first quarter same store sales increase that was the strongest in six years.

Last year target set a record and remodeled 400 stores to its PFresh format which features expanded food and consumables. The program, now in more than 1,000 of the company’s former general merchandise stores, has begun to decelerate with 230 remodels planned for this year, while new store growth ticks up to between 20 and 25 stores.

The REDcard program, which offers a 5% discount to those who pay with a Target debit or credit products, doubled its penetration rate last year to account for 9.3% of purchases. Steinhafel thinks that figure could go higher as the penetration rate in Kansas City, where the program was first tested, is now at 16%. Another key highlight mentioned by Steinhafel is that Target now has 10 proprietary brands that generate annual sales in excess of $1 billion.

He also alluded to the growth potential of the CityTarget format, noting that the Chicago location where the meeting was held with be one of three (Los Angles and Seattle are the others) locations to open next month. They will be followed by October openings in San Francisco and a second Los Angeles location. A third Los Angeles location will open in 2013 along with a location in Portland.

Despite the improvements highlighted by Steinhafel, when he opened the floor for questions shareholders took the meeting in a direction unrelated to the company’s growth prospects or ability to execute key initiatives.

Instead, what executives got were questions about political contribution policies, some of which related to a now two year old issue that arose after Target gave money to a candidate opposed by the gay and lesbian community. Another speaker took exception to Target selling gay and lesbian pride T-shirts on its website and felt the company had been pressured into doing so. Another speaker questioned the need for Target to be involved in the Retail Industry Leaders Association trade group.

Steinhafel defended the company’s involvement, noting that while there is a risking related to involvement in politics, legislative and regulatory matters, the bigger risk is not participating.

“We focus our energies around two things; swipe fee reform and efairness,” Steinhafel said. “It is important for us to have a seat at the table because we want a level playing field.”

Another shareholder took exception to Target’s efforts in the area of sustainability and seemed concerned that the company’s environmental efforts were resulting in higher prices. He encouraged the company to produce a report showing how much its efforts were adding to the cost of goods. Another shareholder appearing on behalf of a person who was denied unemployment wanted Target to reform its hiring practices.

And then there was a gentleman from California concerned that Target’s canned peaches are sourced from China and cost more than those sold at Walmart that are sourced from California. EVP of merchandising Kathee Tesjia vowed to look into the matter and apologized because the company is relatively new to the food business but looking to beef up its local sourcing efforts. Steinhafel took it a step further and said, “there is no excuse for us to ever be higher priced that our competitors on a similar item.”

The meeting ended with a long time shareholder lamenting that no one ever talks about all the good stuff Target does.

“The board is doing a fantastic job and the stock is way up. Thank you,” he said.

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