How The Center Store Became Popular Once Again!

As shoppers have become more and more educated in what they’re consuming, their wants and needs have quickly changed and new shopper segments have emerged that retail wasn’t previously ready for. The center store used to be endless rows of food unfit to customers’ new desires for healthy options, dietary needs, and ready-to-go meals. To satisfy their needs, shoppers were leaving the center store and either heading to the perimeter of the stores or turning to online and specialty grocers for exclusive items that were low-fat, GMO-free, vegan-friendly, organic, etc. With center store traffic slowing and sales down, retail grocers challenged the large and medium CPG brands to rethink their products and introduce new healthier options that could drive traffic back towards the center of the store.

Product Innovation and Consumer Insights Lead The Charge 

Today’s manufacturers appear to have hit a sweet spot with their latest products. What was once an exclusive item or ingredient that could only be found at a specialty and online grocer has now become mainstream in grocery stores. According to the new report, The Center Store Revolution: Innovation Drives Trips and Category Growth,” done by Catalina, new generations of product innovators and CPG brands are rejuvenating the center store to remain relevant to consumers’ changing tastes and behaviors. Today 78% of grocery baskets include at least one item from the center store.

What Products In Particular? 

Some of the fastest-growing subcategories in the center store that are driving growth include non-fat/low-fat, healthy snacks, sparkling water, and premium chocolate. In 2017, non-fat/low-fat generated more than a half million increase in new trips and a 67% increase in dollar sales. Consumers spent an average of $8.01 on healthy snack alternatives such as veggie, bean, and plantain chips. Sparkling water (La Croix for example) reaped the benefits of a 3.8% decline in the soda category. Finally, gluten-free shoppers spent 2.2 times more for premium chocolate bars to fit their dietary needs.

Where Do Grocers and CPG Suppliers Go From Here?

In order to satisfy ever-changing consumer demands, manufacturers and retail grocers have to keep working together to reinvigorate the center store, from new product rollouts to brand partnerships and targeted niche marketing.

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Seth Nagle, Senior Marketing Manager at RW3 Technologies understands the power of innovation but also its limitations. Attending Salve Regina in New England, starting his career in Silicon Valley, and now living in Austin, Texas; Seth provides a unique tech perspective to a complex CPG and Retail Grocery Industry that is in constant disruption.