a bowl of noodles and chopsticks on top with chart and growth arrows to reflect innovation trends in retail

5 Innovation Trends Retailers Will Be Chasing Tomorrow: What Grocery Buyers Learned at the NGA Executive Conference

Grocery Innovation Trends are Driving Today's Natural Shopper

The greatest business challenge of the last 18 months hasn’t been simply that there was a disruption to our daily lives, but rather that there was continuous disruption. Everyone was having to make decisions about their business with the hope that there would be some consistency to rely on in the future—and we’re finally getting there. As frustrating as these 18 months have been, we have learned more about today’s consumers and what to expect moving forward as grocery buyer innovation trends continues to shape the market.

Recently at the NGA Executive Conference, SPINS Chief Commercial Officer Jay Lovelace and SVP of Retail Dawn Valandingham dove into 2020-2021 data to help retailers get a clear view of the trends that will shape the natural industry. You’ll notice that each of these trends relies on innovation, whether that’s an innovative product or an innovative mindset. Retailers that bring innovation to their shelves are going to earn customer loyalty and the sales that come with it.

5 Trends Retailers Will Be Chasing Tomorrow

1. Whole Health Begins with Immunity and Wellness

Prior to the pandemic, shoppers focused on nutrition and enjoyment and while that hasn’t entirely disappeared it has evolved into a focus on wellness and immunity. Shoppers feel empowered to make choices about their own health and are looking for stores that feel like a trusted space that meets their needs. That’s why you need to stock wellness and immunity staples as well as the latest offerings that show you are current with today’s trends.

bar chart of key immunity ingredients growing in sales

2. Brick & Mortar Coexists with Digital

The pandemic didn’t suddenly bring the digital experience to the mainstream or replace physical storefronts; it merely accelerated an existing trend. The extended months of lockdown and the slow return to in-person shopping has proven that the future of retail is a combination of experiences, and the digital space is not one you can afford to ignore. After all, Natural products shoppers opt for internet ordering at nearly twice the rate of all customers. That’s why retailers need to reach when, where, and how they choose. Adapt to their behavior rather than try to force an outdated model onto them.

3. Personalization Earns Loyalty

Because customers are taking an omnichannel approach to shopping and adapting their approach to health, no two buying journeys are identical. That’s why you want to create more opportunities for discovery in-store and online, create personalized recommendations, and maintain an inventory that covers the widening scope of wellness and immunity. The more you can save shoppers time and showcase your ability to meet their needs, the more likely they are to feel like they’re getting a tailored experience when they visit your store.

4. Grocery Buyer Innovation Leads to Growth

Every retailer knows the right channel assortment is fundamental to a successful store, but striking the right balance of items isn’t simple. You want to choose items that support your growth strategy and keep you ahead of trends. The most effective way to make this happen is with a unique in-store experience that balances classic and new product attributes. For example, plant-based items remain hot items in part because the plant-based brands are expanding their offerings that consumers are integrating into their lives. Stock items that appeal to meat eaters, flexitarians, and vegans alike, such as oat-based yogurt or animal-free pork rinds.

bar chart of sales growth over time for plant based products

5. Transparency Matters

Today’s shopper expects visibility into products and business practices that start before an item lands on your shelves. Dietary information and lifestyle needs now sit alongside social and ethical priorities, leading shoppers to seek out brands that align with their views on sustainability, ingredient sourcing, and equality. Now is the time for you to take a position and be upfront about what you and the brands you carry stand for.

bar chart comparing natural products market consumer base for white vs. people of color

Transform These Trends into Action

Now that you know these trends, you can begin to integrate them into your customer experience and growth strategy. Remember to:

  • Create a trusted place for customers to meet their health needs
  • Build solid technology to drive customer connection
  • Create a dialogue with your customer to build loyalty
  • Enable Category Managers with the right data to make quick, specific decisions
  • Decide to drive this pillar across your store and you’ll tap into growth


5 Trends Retailers Will Be Chasing Tomorrow

Discover what grocery innovation trends are driving the industry as consumers shop with a strengthened focus on health & wellness as well as convenience.

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