2020 Innovation Outlook

For a complete look at the current trends impacting grocers and retailers today, sister brand Progressive Grocer has published a “2020 Innovation Outlook,” and it will be interesting to see how retailers fit their private brand strategies into these trends.

Some areas of interest for private brands in the report: 

Buying local. Retailers like to tout brands that are made from locally sourced farms or nearby manufacturers, and private brands are no different. However, what does local mean? For some retailers, that’s just anything made in the United States. Nielsen research suggested that local means 50 miles out or less. Either way, perhaps there’s more of a transparency trend to come in local, or something private brand manufacturers can offer in this area.

And getting even more local, there’s the trend of a retailer owning its own farm, such as Kroger teaming up with Berlin, Germany-based Infarm to build a modular living produce farm in the U.S. that uses hydroponic technology.

Digital-first strategies. As more shoppers lean on their mobile phones as shopping assistants in-store, retailers can expect to grow their digital engagement with shoppers. From a broad perspective, this could be a cashierless, autonomous shopping experience in parts of the store. It can also mean more gamification and entertainment in the store, such as Giant Foods recent Augmented Reality winter snowflake experience for kids. And digital-first could be finally moving away from printed circulars to full-on mobile engagement and digital loyalty programs.

Plant-based and associated flavors. Retailers launching their own private brand plant-based foods is clearly a top growing trend, seemingly reported on daily at Store Brands, and there are companies developing more plant-based foods and food associated with plant-based that can come from plant breakdown or oxidation during processing. The goal regardless is to mimic the taste of meat. And this may also fuel a larger trend in general of reducing how much meat consumers expect to eat.

Drones, robots, voice assistants and more are all explored in the report. Read the full report here.