Home grocery delivery is emerging as a powerfully disruptive trend. With shipping advances like same-day delivery (which Amazon and Walmart are in a race to achieve), online grocery shopping will upend traditional grocery retail models and food brand merchandising/marketing strategies.
Personal and social recommendations
Picture periodically browsing your grocery delivery service, maybe via a meal planner mobile app. It’s likely you’ll need not order specific ingredients for meals if you choose – you’ll simply pick meals you’d like to try, and the app will order exactly what you need.
Netflix film service asks you to rate what you watch over time to learn your viewing preferences. Your meal planner will work in the same way. Reviewing the meals you eat will allow the app to gradually learn your taste. It’ll then recommend meals you’re likely to enjoy, and steer you away from foods you’ll hate. “You enjoy spaghetti and meatballs, and this vegetarian lasagna recipe. People who like those dishes tend to like this mushroom ravioli recipe – would you like to add it your menu?”
And imagine connecting your meal planner to your social networks – say Facebook friends or Twitter followers – to discover and discuss what they’re cooking and enjoying. “Your friend Neill recently made biscuits with green chile gravy, and gave it five stars. Would you like to read his review, or ask him about it?”
Following others’ meals won’t be limited to current friends. Today we follow strangers on Twitter who gather and share interesting links, or subscribe to users who create interesting channels or playlists on Youtube or Spotify. Food can be the same way.
The meals you line up in your queue might include instructional cooking videos – say, Bobby Flay walking you through his famous Brussels sprouts. Cooks at home might subscribe to these cooking personalities in their meal planner app, receiving their recipes and videos in their menu like receiving the tweets in a timeline.
And through this social sharing, you wouldn’t need to land a Food Network program to become a famous chef. Normal consumers could put out their own recipes and videos – and if they’re instructional, useful, creative, or entertaining enough, other consumers will share them. The best online chefs will gather a following organically, just as people become influential or famous on social networks today just by being funny, educational, etc. Food and kitchenware brands will target these influencers for placement in their videos.
Branded food networks
Brands will also have the opportunity to engage their own following – just as they have in social – with recipes or other helpful information. Weight Watchers, for example, could offer a menu planning service as part of the consumer’s personal menu. The app knows how many points per day you’re allowed, and offers recipe choices or pre-made dishes from the Weight Watchers menu that will keep you on track. You simply pay to subscribe to Weight Watchers as you do to join the club.
And food brands can curate and share their fans’ recipes as well. Hidden Valley Ranch already does this on their brand site, inviting consumers’ recipes using the dressing. Other consumers can rate the recipes and share their own tweaks, creating a helpful community around the brand.
Ordering groceries digitally will make sticking to a diet and eliminating certain foods simpler. You’ll personalize your menu of available dishes with desired settings – say, excluding trans fats, keeping calories under 800 per serving, limiting red meats to twice a week, etc. Then, without ever having to keep track of your dietary concerns yourself, you’ll only see menu options that follow your plan, keeping you on track.
Brands today are struggling with the consumers’ increasing ability to filter their media and avoid/ignore mass-marketing. Imagine how food brands will struggle – and be forced to change – when consumers can filter out unhealthy and undesirable options altogether. No more happening upon the endcap display for those guilty pleasure pork rinds you can’t resist; consumers will control what reaches their digital aisles.
I’m confident that trends like hassle-free grocery delivery and personalized meal planning will help us eat healthier, and more meals cooked at home. Meanwhile, as is true for all social, social grocery buying changes the way brands and retailers sell. They’ll need to become helpful, engaging, and transparent to make it into the consumer’s cart.