It helps to have another perspective to further optimize growth and planning, but to receive the honest answers straight from consumers' mouths may be the best strategy. Stephanie Lundquist, Target’s Executive Vice President of Food and Beverage, and her team posed as third-party researchers and sat down and asked consumers some tough questions, receiving equally tough answers. By walking a mile in their shoes, Lundquist and her team gathered enough insight that led to a complete overhaul of the retailer’s grocery options.
“They thought we were researchers, so they were really honest about what they liked and what they didn't,” Lundquist said at her Keynote address at the Groceryshop conference. “We spent hundreds and hundreds of hours listening to our guests as we started building this brand. We shopped our stores with them, we ate with them, and we learned a lot.”
Target stepped into the grocery ring a little over a decade ago, refitting 1,000 stores to accommodate fresh food, as Business Insider reported. According to Lundquist, it was a “huge undertaking, undertaken quickly.”
“Within a few years, we turned grocery into a $15 billion business,” she said. “As a result, we ended up with a food and beverage category that generates sales on par with the categories that had defined Target for decades, like home, apparel, and accessories. [But we] also ended up with a food and beverage department without much of a point of view.”
That’s where interviewing consumers came into play. After talking to folks, Lundquist discovered places in which the retailer could step up its game. A huge result of these “immersion trips” was the rise of Target’s Good and Gather brand, which signaled a shift in the way the retailer approached its grocery business.
“We can control the ingredients in our products, the quality, and the taste, and we can control whether our brands deliver on our purpose of helping our guests find joy every day,” Lundquist said. “We're doing these things because our guests shouldn't have to make any sacrifice when it comes to getting food at a good value.”
Will this be the new norm for other grocers as part of their development and innovation? Only time will tell!