Social shopping and health and freshness are among the top five trends set to influence Asia’s grocery retail market over the next five years, according to IGD, the international grocery research organization.
“Over the last 12 months, Asia’s grocery landscape has continued to develop rapidly. Retailers have been opening new stores at pace, stores are getting smaller, the offline and online worlds continue to merge, and new technology is being used to make operations more efficient,” said Nick Miles, head of Asia-Pacific at IGD.
“In 2019, we expect this pace of change to continue. Retailers will keep refining their operations to meet growing demand for convenience; partnerships will continue to shape the future of online; health and wellness and social media are set to grow in importance, and in-store technology will fundamentally change the way people shop.”
Looking to next year and beyond, the organization identified five key trends that it thinks will shape Asia’s grocery market and influence retailer strategy.
Changing lifestyles mean shoppers across Asia are becoming increasingly demanding. Shopping little and often is a growing trend and consumers expect to be able to source products anywhere, anytime and anyhow they like.
Retailers are adapting their operations to respond to this – convenience store chains continue to rapidly expand their networks, stores are using space in new ways, retailers are developing smaller and more unique stores, and online delivery times are being cut, said the organization.
“Convenience is not purely about speed. Retailers that are able to meet different shopper demands through their stores, ranges, services and the experience they offer will win," said Miles.
“These experiences will need to be fast, relevant and seamless, so suppliers will need to ensure they also have the necessary flexibility in their businesses."
Partnerships shaping the future of online
Over the past few years, major partnerships have helped share expertise and accelerate online growth across Asia, IGD said. These partnerships come in many forms, with retailers, suppliers and technology businesses increasingly looking to blur the boundary between the offline and online worlds.
In 2019, IGD expects to see more partnerships emerge, existing ones develop further and the influence of Asia’s largest online players to spread across the region.
“Asia’s online landscape is incredibly fluid and competitive. Collaboration between partners will help online expand both within individual markets and across borders, faster than previously thought. Suppliers should ensure they stay on top of the latest online partnerships,” said Miles.
Health and freshness at the heart
Increasing levels of affluence, improved education, targeted government campaigns, and historical food safety scares mean that Asian shoppers are increasingly aware of the importance of healthy living, fresh food, nutrition, and product sourcing. Retailers are responding by highlighting healthy ranges and freshness using innovative concepts, layouts, and technologies.
Miles said: “Fresh food, food service options, and health and wellness ranges will feature more prominently in-store in the future as retailers respond to changing shopping habits – so suppliers should be aware that competition for space in-store will intensify.”
Social commerce is rapidly growing in importance across Asia. Brand communication via social media platforms is commonplace, influencing shopper behavior and providing smartphone users with easy ways to shop online. New innovations will continue to emerge in 2019, as retailers and suppliers deliver targeted marketing and new ways to make online shopping more social, IGS said.
"Shopping via social media platforms is a key route to market in the region. Retailers and suppliers must therefore truly understand the landscape and have a clear social media strategy to engage shoppers and stay relevant," said Miles.
Asian consumers are exceptionally open to new technology. IGD said that in 2019 it would be keeping a close eye on digital and technological innovations in Asia, particularly those helping retailers to differentiate their offer, raise service levels, develop stores that are set up for an online future, and deliver more efficient operations in the face of rising costs.
“Technology is revolutionizing the food and grocery industry in Asia, which could have big implications for how shoppers interact with brands in store in the future. However, it is not only about a focus on customers – but it’s also about reducing costs and improving efficiency. Suppliers need to understand which technologies are set to have the biggest impact on their category," said Miles.