Today’s shoppers are seeking positive culinary experiences, making deliberate decisions from the store to the stove, including wanting to feel good about the foods they eat, have pride in the brands they buy and share their cooking journeys online. This and other research was released in the latest The Why? Behind The Buy report, published by Acosta Sales & Marketing, Jacksonville, Fla., which details the choices and behaviors of grocery shoppers, as they look to enhance how they purchase and consume food.

“The experiential factor is driving today’s shoppers to make food choices rooted in what will bring them personal satisfaction and enjoyment,” says Colin Stewart, senior vice president. “As we head into 2017, it’s important that brands and retailers think about how their product offerings contribute to grocery shoppers’ positive experiences from the moment the item is spotted on the store shelf to when it reaches their kitchen tables.”  

Other key factors contributing to this experiential evolution for grocery shoppers include:

The growing natural/organics category

Shoppers’ spending on healthy products, including natural/organic offerings, has seen steady growth in the past several years, driven by the desire of shoppers to feel good about the foods they’re eating. 

  • 45% of shoppers eat healthy foods even though they are more expensive.
  • 38% of shoppers agree, "I often buy natural/organic products because I know they are better for me."
  • On a typical shopping trip, Millennial shoppers indicated that 39% of the items in their grocery carts were organic products, while total U.S. shoppers indicated just over 25% of the items in their typical carts were organic products. 
  • 26% of Millennial shoppers indicated they usually stay on the store perimeter — such as the produce, meat and dairy sections — only visiting select center-store aisles during stock-up trips.
  • More Millennial shoppers are familiar with non-meat diet choices, with 18% following a non-meat/low-meat diet daily.

 Loyalty, trust in grocery retailers and brands

Shoppers are loyal to their stores and selective about the brands they buy, wanting to feel a personal connection as part of the overall experience. 

  • Nine in 10 shoppers indicated shopping most often at the same grocery retailers as last year. 
  • 44% of shoppers enjoy the experience of shopping for ingredients to prepare the meals they have planned.
  • 77% of shoppers are buying the same grocery brands as last year.
  • 37% of shoppers want their grocery brands to be transparent about their ingredients, processing or production.
  • 45% of shoppers agreed they want their grocery brands to be ones they can trust.
  • 35% of shoppers buy grocery brands that are socially responsible.

Cooking as a culinary experience, not a chore

Many shoppers enjoy the experience of planning and creating meals at home. 

  • 45% of shoppers enjoy the experience of planning meals for their households.
  • 60% of shoppers enjoy preparing new dishes.
  • 45% of Millennial shoppers want to take cooking classes to learn how to prepare new meals and dishes.
  • 54% of shoppers often check out new items in the grocery store. 

Influences of the digital marketplace on grocery shopping

As the intersection of brick and mortar retail and the digital marketplace continues to expand, shoppers have access to more products, promotions and grocery solutions at their fingertips than ever before. 

  • 61% of shoppers have redeemed digital/mobile coupons in the past month for grocery items.
  • 59% of shoppers who have grocery e-commerce available said they ordered grocery items online in the last year.
  • 53% of shoppers get recipe ideas online. 
  • 19% of shoppers — and 25% of shoppers with children —post food or recipe content to social media.

“From online grocery ordering and a desire to explore new foods, to natural products and socially responsible brands, consumers are at the wheel when it comes to steering the consumer packaged goods industry in a new direction,” Stewart adds. “There’s no doubt that this evolution will continue in the coming year, so it’s up to the industry to adapt by leaning into these trends and building trust and loyalty among all shoppers.”