Post Categories: From the Front Lines

Engaging with the Evolving Customer


Deborah Vander Sluis
Sales Advisor

The “typical” household grocery shopper is changing. Ten years ago, she was a woman, likely a mother, who visited the store once or twice a week and believed brand names meant better quality. Today, research from trade groups like the Food Marketing Institute and Private Label Manufacturers Association shows that more men are taking on shopping duties, many sharing it nearly equally with women. Overall, shoppers are also visiting the store more frequently and finding more value in store brand products.

As a result of the evolution of the primary shopper, Sales Advisors must also change the ways they engage. Sales Advisor Deborah Vander Sluis, a 9-year veteran of Interactions, says she finds today’s shoppers are more willing to try new things. “Most shoppers used to stick to the same known products before. But now, I find they are more willing to try a new brand or a new variation of a product,” she says.

To capitalize on this, rather than emphasizing the familiar attributes of a product, it may actually be more effective for Sales Advisors to “encourage shoppers to try something different,” says Vander Sluis. Sales Advisors can point out what’s unique about the item they are promoting, whether it’s an updated recipe, a new flavor or a new twist on a classic, for example.

Sales Advisors should also be careful about falling back on old stereotypes about what products appeal to what types of people. As a prime example, Vander Sluis points out the increase she’s seen in children who like traditionally “adult” foods, such as seafood. Even when parents predict their children won’t like the item she’s sampling, more and more, Vander Sluis finds they do. In turn, parents often buy the product—all the more reason to go out on a limb and offer shoppers a taste of something new!