Food In Canada

What grocers can learn from selling an avocado

By Elisa Swern   

brand loyalty

The importance of collecting customer data

By Elisa Swern


One of the greatest yet underused resources available to grocers today is the customer data they’re able to collect through transactions. Retailers can track what customers purchase each time they enter the store. For example, a grocery store can tell that five per cent of their clients are buying one avocado every week. Now, how can they use this information to increase that number to two or add complimentary items? How can they create enough brand loyalty in their customers to ensure they don’t go to a competitor that’s featuring an avocado sale?



In the past, initiatives like flyers and promotions were enough to draw in new customers and generate brand loyalty. In Expert-370x300today’s competitive grocery industry, these kinds of marketing strategies are no longer enough. Many retailers are able to use their data to execute elements of a personalized engagement plan, but fail at bringing these elements together to create the all-inclusive experience needed. Using this information to offer double fidelity points or a direct discount on a recurring product like avocados is just the beginning.


According to PwC Canada’s Total Retail report, today’s customers want “communities they can feel they’re a part of – reinforced by brands they trust to support the lifestyle and experiences they’re looking for.” Social networks are an increasingly important tool that many retailers have already begun to use. Grocers need to follow suit and offer their customers community content that’s related to their interests, such as easy everyday meal recipes that contain their most frequently purchased items.


By providing access to recipes featuring products they already love – like avocados – grocers are both promoting regular consumption, and creating opportunity to increase the customer’s basket size. Real success is achieved when the grocer is able to distinguish between the customers who purchase avocados to make dip for a Super Bowl party, and those who buy them due to healthy eating habits. With this level of insight, retailers can truly begin to support the consumer’s lifestyle outside of the shopping experience.


To take this one step further, as they review the recipe and share it with their friends, customers should be able to see who has also used it and reviewed it among their peer group. Having their customers know that seven out of 10 of their friends on Facebook liked the local grocery store’s guacamole recipe is an excellent way to build community around a brand.


But this kind of cohesive online engagement initiative isn’t enough to stand out from the competition. Grocers need to make sure they’re supporting their communication with an equally intuitive and personalized purchasing experience. The ability to view a recipe, buy the ingredients needed, and have everything delivered to your home or office with the click of a button provides the level of convenience customers desire and takes engagement one step further.


Alternatively, for in-store shoppers, accurately analyzing data for purchasing trends can also lead to more opportunities for customer satisfaction offline. The top products researched in-store are grocery items. What does this mean? Customers are looking for product information while shopping and grocers can use their data to fill this need. If the most frequent time to purchase avocados is Saturday morning, having a produce specialist in that section at the right time could make a world of difference. Imagine this expert showcasing their knowledge on how to select the perfect avocado for same day use, or for a recipe that will be prepared in a few days. The usual avocado consumer would probably frequent that grocery store more often knowing there will be an expert on hand who can answer produce-related questions.


It’s clear that when data is used correctly, there are endless possibilities to connect with consumers. Creating brand loyalty is not just about having the right product at a good price. It’s about understanding your customer and making sure you’re fulfilling their unique expectations at every point in the shopping journey.


Elisa Swern is PwC’s Retail Strategy Leader. You can contact her at To view the key insights from the Canadian Total Retail 2016 Report, visit


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