How Grocery Stores Can Market to Moms More Effectively

funatstoreDear Grocery Store Chains,

Moms spend $2.1 trillion dollars annually on consumer goods and services {via BSM Media}. Of course, part of those trillions go to YOU - the local grocer. Food is a necessity and thus moms will come to you - regardless of the various "amenities" that you offer.

That said, moms do have a choice where they shop. There are two grocery stores in my immediate area and I would gladly become a staunchly loyal customer to just one of them if any or all of the following measures were put into place:

  • Excellent customer service: Is it too much to expect smiling, focused employees who ask if you need help before you need it?
  • Produce Expert with corresponding demonstrations: Grocery stores should consider hiring a designated "Produce Expert" who answers questions like..."How do I know if a watermelon is ripe?" "Where can I find shallots and what are they used for?" Etc. This person would also do live demonstrations of healthful cooking - roasting potatoes, steaming asparagus, cutting onions without crying, etc.
  • Free snack packs and stickers for toddlers: As parents step into the grocery store, the greeter would provide tots and younger kids with an individually-wrapped goldfish pack and a smiley face sticker. Or a pack of organic graham cracker bites.
  • Free birthday cake, cupcake, or cookie on child's birthday: Some stores do this for a child's 1st birthday (which is a start...). It would be fun if any birthday child received a cupcake or cookie on his/her special day. Perhaps the store could even start a Birthday Club.
  • Private nursing lounge/area: New moms often have only one thing on their mind as they enter any establishment - "What will I do/where will I go if my baby gets hungry?" A grocery store chain would truly stand out if they offered a small private (and clean!) nursing lounge or area...perhaps adjacent to the women's restroom...with a comfortable couch/chair and changing area.
  • Organics line: Kudos to grocers who have already started their own organic product lines and/or who have been mindful about the ingredients in their products. I'd like to see more of the same.
  • Make-Ahead Meal Station: Essentially, moms could come to the store and prepare a meal with already prepped ingredients. They could then take the baking dish home and eat it that night...or stick it in the freezer. A new meal/menu could be offered once a day or once a week.
  • More coupons for fresh ingredients: I believe in coupons, BUT I notice that the coupons in the Sunday paper are often for processed, canned, and frozen foods (which my family *tries* not to buy). I'd love to see more coupons for blueberries, sweet potatoes, squash, homemade bread from the bakery, etc.
  • On-site "restaurant" with seating area: Nothing fancy. Just a small place to order a smoothie, a sandwich, an ice cream cone, or a burrito - at rock-bottom prices. 
  • Grocery Delivery Service: Sometimes a mom just wants to stay home and let someone else do the shopping. I know I would pay "extra" for this amenity. Anything to avoid the car, the crowds, and the possibility of a crying babe.

Thank you for your consideration,

Stephanie (a mom who contributes her fair share of that $2.1 trillion - especially for groceries)

YOUR TURN: What's your favorite grocery store chain and why? What "amenities" would you like grocery stores to offer?

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24 comments on “How Grocery Stores Can Market to Moms More Effectively”

  1. I think I'm a little spoiled living in California! We have a couple different stores that cater to mom's in the ways you have suggested. When we go to Ralph's my 8 year old heads straight for the bakery where they give kids a free cookie on every visit (sometimes 2 cookies, one for son, one for mom)! Whole foods although a bit pricey has very helpful people in the produce section ready to give you samples of what you are looking at, they also offer mini dining areas to buy tasty food to eat. I have even met up with friends there for lunch then shopping. Trader Joes is another good one, they always have coffee available for mom, juice for the kids and small samples.

    But a nursing station! That is awesome! I usually will nurse at one of the seating areas for the coffee places in store or dining areas!

  2. Such great thoughts. I hope someone in the decision making department of the grocery store is reading. I especially love the nursing room one. I'm done with that stage of my life but I do remember sneaking out to the car to nurse. And from one Arizona mom to another, I don't have to tell you how miserable, sweaty, and sticky *that* can get in the summer months. Oh, and the coupons for fresh food?! Brilliant. I'm not a Pop-Tart kinda mom myself. Every once in awhile I get those $5 off a $15 dollar produce purchase from Fry's and I do backflips because I'm so thrilled!

    Excellent ideas!

  3. I used to get a free cookie from Safeway when I was a kid, just for wandering over to the bakery and looking cute (they'd give any kid a cookie, cute or not). Not sure if any of the stores still do this.

    Of course, as an adult, I'm not sure I'd really want my kids getting extra sugar in the day, heh. A free apple would be cool. ;)

  4. I'd like to see local produce offered in the big chain stores. Regular lighting not dimmed lighting. Lower prices. I see end up going to at least three stores per week to get what I want at the price I want to spend. (and I'd like to see Infused Owater sold anywhere locally to me!!)

  5. You really covered it all the only thing that I would add is wider aslies (how do you spell that??). We only have two grocery stores in my small town, City Market (Kroger) and Safeway. Safeway has a great friendly staff but the store is small and a lot of the time they do not have what I need so I normally go to City Market - which they recently remodled and now it is like going to a grocery store in a big city with a sushi bar and all.

    Oh - Steph I am hosting a Body Balance Giveway on my blog can you bring it up on your Tuesday Webtours?

  6. And I would add designated parking for expecting/toddlers-in-toe moms. I'd have to say that Basha's does a pretty good job on some of your points. I never used their "play center" because my kids were old enough to be in preschool when they came around, but my sister loved it. Great post!

  7. Ah yes. Customer service. Doesn't seem to exist where I'm at. The exception is at a store called Wegmans. I LOVE Wegmans. It feels like an upsacale shopping exeperience but it isn't priced like one. They have a cool train set hanging from the ceiling that the boys love to see when we go in. They have a separate cafe and dining area overlooking the store . They have tons of obscure products that you can't get anywhere else and the customer service is good.

    That being said it's a bit of a drive so I can't go there that often. The store I hit most is CVS. Customer service sucks but the Extra Buck program saves me so much money it's absolutely worth it.

  8. My favorite chain around here (in NC) is Harris Teeter. They offer great customer service and they always carry groceries out to the car for moms and elderly customers! Most locations also have a drive through where you can drive around and the bagger will load the car with the groceries. They are very clean and have free cheese and fruit samples, carry organic brands and produce, and give away cookies and balloons to kids. Too bad they are more expensive than the other chains! Although I will probably shop there more often when I have a baby and loading groceries will be made that much harder.

  9. On the west coast, we have a chain called Fred Meyers (affectionately known as Freddies). Their prices don't beat, say WalMart or WinCo, but listen to these amenities:
    -PlayLand (not always open at the best times, but what a treat to drop your kids off for 45 minutes of quiet price comparisons).
    -Starbucks and a small deli with eating area.
    -Free cookie at the bakery every time for your kids
    -Large organic/bulk foods section, complete with skin care line, natural sodas, and frozen items.
    -A great savings card that pays you back with free groceries at the end of each spending session.
    -A high quality generic brand (I think it is the Kroger brand) that usually has good prices.
    Ahhh, and we have one walk-able distance around the block. I'm a lucky mama.

  10. My grocery store, which is owned and operated by a local family, has a small restaurant with a seating area. You can buy paninis, wraps, subs, pizza, or roasted chicken (think boston market) meals. I nurse in the seating area, in the corner, and I've never been spoken to. I like your snack pack idea but I'm not sure it's cost effective, nor would every mother appreciate a bin with goldfish packs, especially if she didn't want her kids having goldfish for some reason. A sticker bin would be better. A greeter would probably be too expensive.

  11. This is a great post! You have some wonderful ideas - I hadn't even thought of "enhancing" a grocery that way, but now that you've introduced me to the concept I'm all for it! I totally agree with there needing to be more coupons for fresh items, and a make ahead meal station would be genius! I like Trader Joe's a lot...I always get good service there, free samples, and the prices are really good too.

  12. Favorite grocery store chain around here would be The Fresh Market, Trader Joe's and Whole Foods. I love the variety of healthy foods. We also have Dominicks and Jewel/Osco and prefer Dominicks out of the two of those.

    Used to use Peapod and Schwan's grocery delivery a lot but since eating healthier I can't always find the foods I want so I just go to the store now.

  13. Hi, I live on Long Island, and if you are ever in the area,stop into a Stop and Shop.
    They have a few of the things you mentioned, including a Starbucks Coffee area. They have home delivery as well, that i have used and it is $5 for delivery. Wahoo!!! With your first order they send you Money off coupons for your next 5 orders. I save so much money that way cuz i'm not cruising up and down the isles, buying stuff I dont need.
    I used to dread going food shopping with my kids. Now i give them some fruit from the produce area (stealing? yes. I call it sanity)
    What are they going to do? Put my 3yr old on the scale and charge me??.... Thanks for your blog..

  14. it used to be fred Meyer's. They have a kiddie land but you can only use it from age 2 until they start kindergarten. Since my oldest can't go in my youngest won't . I stopped going there because if I have to drag my kids around I might as well pay less.

  15. Even though I do most of my shopping at Fry's because it's local, I LOVE Basha's. They have an in-house babysitter and my kids love going. Whenever I say we're going to the store, they beg for Basha's. Unfortunately, they are not the cheapest in terms of prices, but if I plan out my trip beforehand, I can usually get decent deals. Having no kids with me also means that I can take the time to actually look at the prices without chasing down the kids.

    In California, we used to do the Safeway delivery service occasionally. I do enjoy the convenience of having it delivered to my door, but they don't take coupons at the door, so it ends up being more expensive in the long run.

  16. We have 2 grocery stores in our town. Sunmart and WalMart. WalMart claims to have the lowest prices, but they don't. They have a monopoly. They can price products at whatever they want because it's the only Supercenter in the area. It's horrible! Sunmart has a creepy guy who follows little girls around, so I don't go there. I don't want that creep to a)find out where I live and b)follow, stare or bother my little girl while we are shopping.

    When we go to Omaha, I go to a variety of stores, but my favorite is HyVee. Oh, I'm in love with that store!

  17. I LOVE Hy-Vee. It's a midwest thing, you've probably never heard of it, but it's a great store. Fresh produce, truly friendly employees, instore restaurant (best chinese in town, among other fare), many more affordable healthy food selections. I hate when we go anywhere else. :)

  18. I love Wegmans too :) Wanted to say that I know its impossible to really happen but wouldn't it be amazing if Grocery stores had babysitting?

  19. **funny note!It's been so long since I updated my blog,I forgot the address,so I had to look it up in my bookmarks to put it in the "website box"!!How sad is that????**

    Anywhoo......I'm sad to say that I don't have a favorite grocery store in my valley.I give myself two choices....either Albertsons,or Rosauers.But I'll tell you what!If a grocery store with all the amenities you described happened to pop up in this valley,I would have to take my business there:)

  20. I'd shop there!!! I live in the middle of nowhere, and our only local grocery store is HORRIBLE. I avoid it like the plague. They actually try to sell rotting produce and items well past their expiration date. I opt for a grocery store about 30 minutes from my house, a couple of towns over. It's small, but the people are friendly and the store is clean and reasonably well stocked. It is also located near a nice little farmer's market, so I can get local produce most of the year.

  21. I hear that Basha's in Arizona has a Kids Club where you can drop the kids off after they are potty trained. But I would LOVE a store that offered even some of the amenities you mentioned. I usually frequent Fry's (Kroger brand) and feel like they are fairly kid friendly. We always use the "car" shopping carts and often my daughter is given a free balloon but I have to provide the entertainment and snacks while we shop!

  22. Publix is my favorite around here. The employees really are customer service focused. And the bakery offers a cookie to my toddler every time we walk by the counter. My only complaint is that I can't figure out the logic of where things are. I struggle to find things (thankfully I can usually find an employee). Like the evaporated milk should be in the baking aisle like it is in every other grocery store but it isn't. It is in the cereal aisle. Huh? And I love that they have sales and specials but don't require me to have a card to take advantage of them (I hate feeling like I am being tracked by the stores the require savings cards).

  23. Publix is definitely my favorite store around here! They always have smiling faces, great deals, helpful employees, race car shopping carts, and a cookie for my little man! It's a much less stressful place to shop for me!

  24. My absolute favorite grocery chain is Wegmans. When they first opened up in town, I thought it would be way out of my price range, because it *looked* so upscale. It took a few times of shopping there before I realized that I was actually getting *much* better deals on the things I normally buy. And they have a very large section of the store exclusively for natural and organic products, from groceries to home care and even cosmetics! And the produce always looks so healthy compared to the other stores. That's important to me.
    They have a few of the other amenities you mention, though I don't typically take advantage of them: They have a restaurant with plenty of seating. It's fairly fancy, actually. A full Chinese-by-the-pound bar, a deli with prepared foods, a pizza place, a sub place, and probably a couple other elements I'm forgetting.
    They have regular food demonstrations.
    They have upscale cheese and olive bars, a fancy bakery, and a deli full of plenty of meat choices.
    Their customer service is typically the best I experience in my area. And seeing as how I'm generally very disappointed in customer service experiences out here on the East coast, this is again something very important to me.
    They have some great choices for carts for moms of multiple kids - some carts have a wider berth so you can seat 2 kids instead of just one. And they have other carts with attachments for 2 extra kids, also. Phew! With 3 in tow, I often take advantage of these options.

    But they don't do much for the kids... My favorite in that arena is Trader Joes. They have free balloons and stickers at checkout, which makes my kids request to shop there often. They also have a little treasure hunt game in-store. If you find a hidden pirate teddy bear, you can turn it in for chocolate coins. And then you get to hide it anywhere you want (among the shelves, anyway!) for the next kid to find. They also have incredible free samples every day to showcase some of their products. And I've always LOVED free samples!

    If I could take the elements from both stores and combine them, I'd never shop ANYWHERE else. Not unless they offered kid drop-off so I could shop alone, at least. ;)

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