Enterprise Marketing & Promotions Management

Independent Grocers Reinforce Innovations & Traditions at The NGA Show

By / February 2017


Recognizing the unique contributions of independent grocers, the National Grocers Association hosts The NGA Show each year for food retail executives, food/CPG manufacturers and service providers to connect and collaborate. From the opening keynote speaker, former Speaker of the House John Boehner, and more than 40 specialized educational workshops to the Grocers Care Charity Event and the Best Bagger Championship, NGA hones in on the endearing and enduring qualities of independent grocers.

We sponsor the event annually and I was honored to serve on a panel discussion about the ROI of Advertising Spending. The panel moderator, Anne-Marie Roerink, Principal of 210 Analytics, unveiled data from the second annual “Advertising and Promotional Practices Among U.S. Supermarket Retailers.” The benchmarking survey presented by Aptaris and dunnhumby, along with Topco, details investments in social, mobile and more relevant food retail promotions.

One overarching challenge and opportunity is the fact that there’s no longer a singular path to purchase.

Shoppers are increasingly in control and consumers demand relevant content. They want meaningful messages at the appropriate time in the buyer’s journey. Add to the mix, the ever-widening range of advertising vehicles and the communications process has never been more complex.

The RFG 2016 Supermarket Experience Study says 77% of consumers refer to one or more ad vehicle before and during shopping trips.

Here’s how grocery customers are researching promotions:

  • 56% print circular at home
  • 31% print circular in-store
  • 26% electronic circular
  • 19% in-store only deals
  • 19% loyalty program deals
  • 12% smartphone/app research
  • 7% social media research

According to the Advertising and Promotional Practices Among U.S. Grocery Retailers report, while 90% of grocers continue to rely on printed circulars, they are reallocating funds at a steady pace. When reallocating ad dollars, 55% of grocers will move to digital, social and mobile only, while 40% will spread out their budget to a mix of traditional and digital/social media.

How are supermarkets making decisions? Based on the survey of nearly 70 food retailers, demographics edge out past purchase history as the top segmentation tool.

In addition, grocers are looking to build online engagement with shoppers through a multitude of tools.

The survey identified one major social media opportunity. Although 90% of supermarkets are present on one or more social media platforms, only 87% of supermarket shoppers regularly follow one or more of those social media sites. And only 25% of shoppers are friends with or connected to their primary grocery store.

One comment from a survey participant underscores the close ties of independent grocers to their communities:

“As owners, we personally friend request everyone in our market area through neighborhood pages and then immediately invite them to our business page. This has been our most successful building technique. In my opinion people like to know the owner of a local business and are more willing to follow their page if it’s personal rather than a contest submission.  It also gives it a personal touch which is in line with our overall service mission.”

As we focus on building community through digital channels, the independent grocer is poised to make tremendous impact. They are one of the centers of the community, supporting little leagues, high school sports, fund raisers and jobs for high school kids. A local grocery store is a place where everybody knows your name. Done right, local grocers can own the social space by reinforcing their identity in the community and gain an edge over competition.

The report has a wealth of immediately actionable insights. You can learn more by:

  1. Registering for the live webinar being held Thursday, February 23rd, 1:30p-2:30p EST, at https://www.goaptaris.com/study2017/
  1. Downloading the report complete with charts and graphs detailing survey responses and best practices at https://www.goaptaris.com/study2017/

The NGA Show allows us to embrace innovations and take a fresh look at the traditions that represent continued success for independent grocers.

On a personal note, I had an opportunity to speak with a cheese manufacturer who remembered my uncle and grandfather’s grocery store in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. His mother shopped there in the early 1960’s. The exchange was meaningful and spotlights the undeniable importance of independent grocers.

Please contact us at info@GoAptaris.com for more information about our report or to hear more stories from The NGA Show.

Tom O’Reilly – President and CEO, Aptaris Tom has a deep understanding of the retail business from both the store and vendor perspectives. He brings decades of hands-on experience in advertising and promotions including new media innovations. As an entrepreneur, he has transformed each organization he has worked with. Tom is a forward-thinking leader with a history of driving innovation, growth and profitability. As an avid reader, Tom is always enthusiastically sharing cutting-edge ideas with clients and colleagues.


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