Retail Trends

Retail Trend: Grocery retail - consolidation or evolution? The opportunity for brands and retailers

Sean Crawford, Client Development Director at Threefold comments on the latest news and trends within the world of retail.

Sean Crawford 3
Written by Sean Crawford on 07 Mar, 2019

Once dominated by the big four, new players have entered the market squeezing the once untouchable industry leaders. In response, major players have been busy getting their houses in order.

Tesco’s have eaten up Booker, whilst Co-op have absorbed Nisa. A proposed merger between Sainsbury’s and Asda was on the cards (until the CMA intervened…), whilst Amazon is rumoured to be buying up vacant retail units, as it prepares for its UK roll out.

And with price always prevalent, the discounters continue to challenge the norm. With Lidl and Aldi aggressively opening new stores across the country, it’s no surprise the news cycle has been dominated by mergers and acquisitions.

Most recently, it was announced the near 19-year old partnership between Ocado and Waitrose is coming to an end, with the former favouring rival Marks & Spencer’s as its new partner. The new entity - a joint venture - will see M&S food available for home delivery for the first time, come summer 2020.

So what does this mean for us shoppers and the brands trying to speak to us?

For brands, consolidation of retailers will see equal consolidation of retailer’s media estates. This will be music to shopper marketeers' across the industry; no longer will they have to decipher the difference between a wobbler in one retailer or a plinth barker in another. By working together, retailers can drive consistency across their media estates, ensuring their estates work harder for brands by cherry picking the strongest performing channels to help reach shoppers at the point of purchase.

New retail entities - such as Amazon Go – will offer a wealth of new media opportunities in the UK’s first grocery cash free stores. Not only can we expect an increase of instore digital channels mirroring Amazon’s expertise in online, but we can also expect there to be a renewed focus on channels that drive conversion. With Amazon’s model all about speed and efficiency, brands will be up against the clock to disrupt shoppers in this new retail environment.

For retailers, there is also plenty of opportunity. Ocado and M&S will be looking to reap the rewards of each other’s customer databases, offering fresh targeting opportunities for brands as they look to combat the potential loss of Waitrose shopper loyalists.

This opportunity however will only be possible if couple retailers approach the challenge with a ‘brands-first mentality’ rather than just an income line. As pressures on retailers P&L’s, market consolidation and an increase on price sensitivity by shoppers heightens; retailers need to work together to increase access to media opportunities across their instore and eCommerce platforms with a laser focus on providing a great ROI to the brands which choose to invest.

By doing so, there is the potential for retailers and brands to win alike - giving the opportunity for the nation’s most loved brands to deliver targeted marketing communications that will improve shoppers shopping experiences. Those who get the media offering right, targeting shoppers across the path to purchase through integrated channels, can create loyalty, brand affinity and a seamless shopping experience that will keep shoppers – and marketeers’ – coming back for more.