Delis can’t afford to ignore new trends in consumer shopping behavior.

The millennial demographic is driving sweeping changes across many retail, CPG, and food sectors, including grocery stores. If you don’t understand what they’re looking for in a shopping experience, you will lose the competitive advantage given to delis that are capable of adapting to new trends.

Millennials Love Prepared Foods

Many millennials have a hectic lifestyle that makes the prepared food section an attractive alternative to cooking or eating out. Prepared, fresh, labeled food will usually accommodate millennial meal needs, such as grabbing lunch on their way back to the office. Progressive Grocer found that 44 percent of this generation shops at the grocery store deli, compared to 21 percent of Gen X and 33 percent of baby boomers. Approximately 60 percent of millennials also prefer stores featuring a deli, which helps delis create a position as a growth factor for existing businesses.

Many delis rely on popular but basic food, such as potato salad. While this approach worked well when previous generations held the most buying power, millennials now have a commanding presence. Delis need to branch out into new, exciting flavors and products that promise something different. Adding a variety of regional cuisines, experimenting with unusual selections, and offering samples helps win over the millennial market segment.

Millennials also want high-quality products for their money and a convenient shopping experience. They don’t mind paying higher prices as long as the perceived value matches what they’re spending. Add online ordering so your customers can quickly pick up their food, rather than waiting around in line. This demographic works long hours, so extended and flexible deli hours are ideal in order to accommodate alternative schedules.

Authenticity is a big deal for millennials. They want to know what’s in their food and favor fresh, quality ingredients. Organic and non-GMO products with easy-to-read labels, as well as food containing very little preservatives, will all get a warm welcome.

Using Data Collection for Your Deli

You can’t turn your deli into a millennial-attracting sensation overnight, but you can speed up the process with data collection tools. The changes you need to make require a lot of trial and error, and what works for the store across town might not necessarily fly with your customer base. If you fail to collect data during this process, you will have a hard time manually tracking the best strategies for improving your customer experience and driving sales.

Since you can gain insight into consumer behavior, it’s good to know what shoppers are looking for when they come into the deli. For instance, what products do they purchase, how long do they have to wait, and which types of advertisements are most effective? This information can help you optimize your deli with popular food, the right specials, and a finely tuned customer-service process. As you gather data over time, you can identify patterns and trends that help properly manage your prepared food inventory and decrease waste. Data collection also helps maintain proper labels and address any labeling issues. For example, if customers spend a lot of time asking about ingredients in your deli items, try making changes to the labels for additional clarity.

If your deli has more than one location, employee training is absolutely essential to maintain consistency. Data collection tools can help gather invaluable store-level insights to document all training programs and provide recommendations for further education.

You have many opportunities to tweak your deli to accommodate the particular tastes of your local customers, adapt to industry-wide trends, and prepare yourself for an enthusiastic millennial shopping demographic. It’s time to put down the potato salad and branch out into unique cuisine and a convenient customer experience to bring this foodie-centric demographic through your doors.

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