Capturing the Loyalty of Millennials and Gen Z: A Guide for Independent Grocers

Capturing the Loyalty of Millennials and Gen Z: A Guide for Independent Grocers
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Grocery businesses should be solid. They shouldn’t have a single thing to worry about when it comes to making sales and bringing in customers. After all, they sell essential items! Everyone needs food, so, logically, everyone should be shopping at their closest grocery store and keeping every single store brand in business.

This isn’t the case.

Big brands constantly kill small businesses when they move in. They simply offer more value for customers, even though they don’t add a whole lot when it comes to the community itself. This can make it difficult even for essential stores to stay in business and thrive. After all, if you can get your shopping for less at a big store and do all your shopping at once, why would you go to the little brand?

The fact is, it’s hard out there for independent grocers. It’s also very important that those same grocers continue to operate. The good news for you as the owner of an independent grocery brand is that Millennials and Gen Z, or, in other words, the future generations, are far more eco-conscious and willing to pay more for sustainable options than in the past – to a certain extent.

If you can appeal to their sense of justice and can also offer them something special in the way of enjoyment, you can usually attract customers to keep your small business thriving.

Offer Zero-Waste Bulk Food

One of the easiest ways to attract both the eco-conscious and the cost-conscious is to add a bulk dried food section. Not only does this let customers buy more for less, but you can also actually get them to pay more than they were planning (at least a few times) by selling attractive pantry containers right next to your bulk food section.

These containers appeal to those hoping to create that beautiful pantry design they’ve likely seen time and time again online. For those that can’t afford that, offer free containers that you’ve cleaned. You can even have a container donation drop-off to encourage community engagement.

As for the spices and dried goods themselves, aim to offer a small selection of essentials like flour, sugar, and even cereal. You’ll also want to offer top spices. By buying these spices from a wholesaler like Olam Spices you can pass on the savings to customers who can forgo buying expensive spice jars that just clutter up their kitchen and instead reuse their own containers.

You can even have a spice mix program. The easiest way to do this is to average out the spices’ costs so that everything costs the same. This way people can mix their spices as they want, and payment is easy. If this isn’t doable, you can have an employee do it for your customers and take note of the mixes and how much of that mix is in the container.

Work with Local Farmers

Rather than sell produce from overseas, try to sell as locally as possible.Work with local farmers to sell fresh eggs, fruit, and veg at a great price. You can save and pass on those savings to customers by specifically buying the wonky or ugly looking fruit and veg. This is another key highlight you can actively advertise to younger generations who are happy to buy the wonky fruit and vegetables to reduce food waste.

Sell Unique Items

There are so many amazing small businesses near you, and often they won’t have a store of their own. Instead, sell their products at your store. Vet them, their production process, and the quality of the products themselves, and give customers options. Some customers are happy with a shampoo bar; others prefer liquid. By offering a variety of unique options and one or two classic basics, you can appeal to all types of customers and stand out as a brand overall.

Host Tasting Events

Tasting is common in big brand grocery stores, but it’s actually more engaging in smaller brands. Host tasting events or tasting days to bring in customers interested in trying new things or just getting some free treats. Tastes are a great way to bring in the younger generations,especially who likely haven’t explored as much as their older counterparts when it comes to food. This is particularly great to attract Gen Z, who are open to many cultures and to new things, but may not have yet had the opportunity.

Host Workshops

Life classes started with millennials but are also popular with Gen Z. Host cooking classes and workshops both online and in person to help your local community learn how to do more. This can be how to do more with their ingredients in a series of cooking classes. It could be life classes like how to store fruit and veg, an introduction to canning, and so on. Having a presentation station in your store where customers can watch a demo is a great way to bring in customers.

For best results, film everything that you do and put it online.

Be Active Online

If you really want to bring in the younger generations, then your brand needs to be online. Don’t just stick to what you may consider the classics. You’ll also want to be on the newer platforms like TikTok or Be Real. These can be excellent marketing tools, especially since you can showcase how to use the products you sell in new and unique ways. Creating captivating videos of your demos and tastings is easier than ever as well, thanks to the many digital apps and AI-assisted tools that generate videos automatically for you.

Remember to engage directly with your audience when you do this. Ask them what they’d like to learn next, what guide they want to see, and what ingredient they want an overview of. Tie everything back to visiting your store itself for best results.

Offer Delivery

Millennials and Gen Z are busy people, which is why grocery deliveries have skyrocketed. To appeal to them, you need to offer delivery yourself. If you can’t yet offer a true delivery service where they choose how much and what they add to their basket, you can offer set delivery boxes. Things like a Weekly Essentials series for everyone, including a meat and dairy box, a vegetarian box, a gluten-free box, and a vegan box, can be hugely popular and offered on subscription, giving you a more consistent income while also making it more cost-effective to set up deliveries.



About the author

Saman Iqbal

Saman is a law student. She enjoys writing about tech, politics and the world in general. She's an avid reader and writes fictional prose in her free time.

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