Tom Schoenwaelder's Perspective on Changing Behaviors of Grocery Shoppers

Tom Shoenwaelder, a Principal at Doblin, was quoted in Greg Trotter's article, Shoppers, not stores, are reshaping Chicago's grocery industry, in the Chicago Tribune. Here is an excerpt:

For those bemoaning The Kroger Co.'s planned acquisition of Mariano's and asking why such a thing would happen, the answer's actually quite simple.

It's you.

Grocery shoppers today are a finicky lot. Across demographics, consumers are increasingly reaching for food they trust to be natural, fresh and high-quality. But, as industry experts point out, they're aren't satisfied with just that. No, these savvy modern-day gatherers of sustenance want indulgent foods, too. The bacon might be in the shopping cart right beside the organic kale.

They trade up for quality, down for staples. They want it all, basically, and they want it cheap.

Those trends have reshaped the grocery landscape across the nation, a tidal wave that reached Chicago well before Dominick's closed in 2013. Natural and gourmet-type stores have flourished and, on the other end of the spectrum, so too have discounters. Relative newcomers like Mariano's and Fresh Thyme, as well as Costco Wholesale and Sam's Club, are battling for a share of the weekly grocery bill.

"It spells trouble for any organization that has a hard time evolving," said Tom Schoenwaelder, principal at Doblin, consulting firm Deloitte's design and innovation arm. "And large organizations often struggle to be as nimble as their smaller competitors."

Traditional grocery store companies, like Albertsons, parent of Jewel-Osco, or Kroger, have been forced to compete through consolidation and overhauling their offerings, particularly at the perimeter of the store where customers are increasingly hunting for fresh produce, meat and prepared foods to shape their meals.

The most successful stores are curating a shopping experience to accommodate both health and indulgence in a way that's not overwhelming with the abundance of choices, Schoenwaelder said. "Consumers have no idea what to do with 30 different kinds of ketchup on the shelves," he said.

Read the rest of the story here.