The successful retailer of the future

The clearly defined lines between food retailers and restaurants are becoming more and more blurry, said a consumer expert at a meeting of farmers and agribusiness representatives in Guelph today.

Harvey Hartman of the US-based Hartman Group, consumer research firm, says a growing number of retailers are now also offering eat-in opportunities for consumers to enjoy ready to eat foods right in the store. Whole Foods is one such example, where people come not just to shop, but also for the experience – which increasingly now includes eating as well.

And specialty stores, ones that offer unique, local or artisan foods and drinks, will keep growing in popularity as shoppers seek out special experiences, advice from experts and novel flavours. This growth will come at the expense of traditional grocers and retailers, says Hartman.

He offers the following tips for the successful retailer of the future, again citing US specialty retailer Whole Foods as an example:

  • exhibit a passion for food
  • understand how people respond to sensory and environmental cues – like smell, sight and touch
  • offer uniqueness and quality
  • emulate live theatre, that is, offer consumers an experience
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