5 Things Women Want from Grocery Stores

1. The need for speed. Recently Phil Lempert (a fave of ours) released a study called Retailers Most Annoying Habits. In it, he outlined all of the things consumers (and we will assume that they are mostly women) found irritating “not enough cashiers (44%), items on top shelves too high to reach (35%), promotional displays impede aisle traffic (28%), the store keeps moving items around (27%), aisles too narrow (25%), and not enough baggers (20%).” All of these have to do with how fast can women get in and get out. I have one word – staffing! My personal pet peeve is Express Lanes for items under 20. Why are people who aren’t buying a lot getting the speedy lane when I am spending the big bucks and I’m stuck behind 4 other full carts?

2. New Product availability Because women are so media savvy they want to see new products hit their local shelves quickly. They see something in a magazine, watch it on Top Chef or read about in on a blog and then they want to get it. If it isn’t on the shelf in one, maybe two, visits to the store you can bet that women will forget to look for it going forward and you’ve missed your opportunity.

3. Private Label products that don’t feel like a consolation prizes. The private label category has really risen to the occassion of a sluggish economy. Target in particular has done an amazing job with Archer Farms – unique items with cool packaging that don’t make you feel like you are being punished for buying the store brand.

Women we’ve interviewed tell us that they supplement their grocery list with these items only in categories that don’t “count” so they can afford their family’s non-negotiable items like Oreos or Kraft Mac n Cheese (or risk mutiny in the kitchen). My father used to buy Pathmark’s Scrunchy Cola (did I date myself?) and one morning I found him pouring the soda into a Coke bottle so we wouldn’t know. Nearly broke my 10 year old heart but now I can imagine doing the exact same thing.

4. Hours that understand her job is 24 hours long Women need to shop at stores that understand her need to shop when it fits into her schedule (after school drop off, during lunch or late at night). Stores need to check that they are open early enough in the morning to accomodate women who want to squeeze in a shopping trip before they get to work and late enough for the night owls who get a second wind at 9pm. And make sure that the store operates on full tilt during these hours – deli open, more than one cashier available – so that they don’t walk away without the things they really need.

5. Bulk that isn’t too bulky. Millenials are less likely to stock up when there is a sale or buy big bulk sizes. It’s just not their style We did Selfnography research last year with women in their 20s where they captured their lives on Flip cameras so we could see how they ate at home and entertained with their friends. What struck me was the way they felt about having an empty fridge (usually had some condiments and a bottle of vodka stashed in the ice cube bin). These women weren’t embarassed by their lack of food but rather seemed proud that their social lives were robust enough that they didn’t have to eat at home. These women aren’t likely to buy Costco sized bulk but are open to 3 or 4 day supplies of their favorites because it will save them time at the end of the day.

(Interestingly, when we interview Gen X moms and they show us their kitchens there is usually an overflowing pantry and stuffed freezers and fridges. If they had an empty fridge they would probably feel embarassed to show it off because it would make them look like they weren’t nurturing caregivers to their families.)

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April 13, 2024
by Mary Lou Quinlan

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