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What Retail Customers Will Seek Out in 2020

U.S. consumers will place increased pressure on manufacturers to produce locally, import fewer goods and keep costs down in 2020, according to Nielsen’s 2020 Vision for U.S. Retail and Beyond.

Forty-eight percent of consumers say that local ingredients, manufacturing or staff influence them to try new products. One store taking advantage of this trend is Whole Foods Market.

At the supermarket, a staff of “food foragers” spend their days searching for local food entrepreneurs, reported Atlanta Journal Constitution (Oct. 22). They visit local farmers markets as well as shared commercial kitchens to see what’s being created. Additionally, the researchers look into university programs that support emerging brands and entrepreneurs.

In Georgia, Whole Foods carries more than 250 brands local to the state—what customers find in a store varies by location and store footprint—but most stores will have at least 50 local brands, according to food forager for the chain Kristin Sherman.

The Fresh Market takes a similar approach, partnering with local organizations and highlighting local products in specialty displays set apart from the regular store shelves. Customer requests are also a big factor in finding new products for the store and searching for new products tends to be done on a regional basis.

Another key factor that will continue to be important to Americans is brand transparency. Interest in a company’s operational footprint will become mainstream, and consumer engagement will hinge on corporate values as well as available products and services.

Labels and ingredient transparency influence 48% of consumers to try or switch to new products, and 73% are willing to pay more for a product that contains environmentally friendly and sustainable materials.

Over the summer, Raley’s expanded the nutritional, health and wellness attributes for its nearly two-year-old Shelf Guide, reported Progressive Grocer (July 16). The grocer’s transparency tool now has 23 icons for health-related attributes.

“Consumers have the right to know exactly what they are eating, putting on their bodies or using in their homes,” noted Yvette Waters, Raley’s nutrition strategist and brand influencer. “We are looking into a more holistic wellness approach when navigating the aisles.”

Additionally, Nielsen predicts 5G will revolutionize the internet of things for retail and time and trust will dictate consumer relationships. Sixty-three percent of consumers are already using or willing to use self-service checkout with automatic payment linked to a credit/debit card or mobile wallet on exit, while 58% already use or are willing to use a mobile wallet to speed up payment and avoid carrying cash or cards.

Frictionless commerce will be defined by the millisecond as innovation in manufacturing, fulfillment and last-mile delivery services rapidly accelerate. Almost half of consumers are already using or willing to use delivery drones for delivery to their personal location as well as virtual assistants to purchase products.

However, big brands will have to confront privacy backlashes and deepfake-powered social network attacks intended to destroy credibility.