Grocery is still great

November 29, 2017

You just can’t beat grocery.

When Jeff Cohn and I travel together for business, we talk food before we book our flights. We even plan meetings around our next meal. This isn’t all together unusual. Food is a primary benefit of travel.

But Jeff and I go a step further: We plan our accommodations around grocery stores.

Yep, we’re proud grocery geeks who scout out the nearest and foodiest grocery store in whatever city we’re visiting. Not because we need anything in particular, but simply because we’re self-proclaimed foodies who embrace the sights, the smells, and the edible discoveries found in (inspiring) grocery stores.

Plus, we’re fortunate to have some pretty innovative grocery-focused clients, so visiting regional/local grocery centers is a useful hands-on experience to understand what’s new and buzzworthy in grocery.

And there’s a lot of buzz swirling around grocery in the industry right now. Amazon’s entry into the space has thought leaders examining the role of grocery in our lives. Consumers are testing home delivery and in-store pick up (“click and collect”) options. And you can read countless think pieces on the subject that dive deep into where grocery goes from here.

Of course, my opinion is grocery isn’t going anywhere.

As our client Phillips Edison has said before, Amazon’s entry doesn’t repudiate grocery’s value—it substantiates it. Grocery shopping is one of the few shared, essential parts of life. I bet you have a shopping list on your refrigerator right now. (Don’t forget the creamer, honey.)

Grocery is great. It’s frequent. It’s secure. It’s internet-resistant. And as someone who makes a point to visit the local market in every town she visits, I can tell you the visceral experience is part of the consumer appeal of grocery.

The smell of fresh bread. The recipe ideas you get from passing the seafood counter. The way a trip down the laundry aisle reminds you that you also need dish soap. The food samples that introduce you to a delicious new product. The checking-in with my favorite cashier at the check-out. Delivery just can’t replace these things.

And so as the industry thought leaders begin to reimagine the future of grocery, I am here to proudly proclaim that grocery is great just the way it is.

Mmm. I’m hungry now. Time to hit the salad bar.

Meet Karen Johnson