Publix looks to reach new generation of customers with GreenWise Market
- GreenWise Market, the rebooted store concept that Publix announced last year, is officially open for business in Tallahassee, Florida, according to the Tampa Bay Times. The Tallahassee location is one of five GreenWise Markets that will open between now and 2019. The concept initially began in 2008 but was put on hold while the retailer refined its vision after early struggles.
- The focus of the new GreenWise Market is food, and shoppers can expect to find a grocerant experience with artisan pizza, noodle bowls, slow roasted turkey sandwiches, a hot wing bar, craft beer, kombucha and cold brew coffee – which they can sip in an upstairs loft that features TVs and USB ports.
- The small-format store will be about half the size of traditional Publix grocery stores. In addition to unique food offerings, the market will have new sections such as a “Care” department that offers natural soaps and supplements, and a “Find” section where shoppers can explore fine wine and cheese pairings.
While Publix is a particularly popular market in Florida and the surrounding states, the company recognizes that it skews toward an older demographic. GreenWise Market appears to be an attempt to reach younger consumers and establish a new generation of loyal shoppers with offerings such as freshly prepared food, in-store eateries and lounge space.
Elley Symmes, a senior analyst with Kantar Retail, told Grocery Dive that Publix is really trying to go after a different customer with the GreenWise format. “What this rebooted GreenWise format does is it goes after the student population — that younger, urban millennial population. They are trying to find growth in new shopper segments.”
Younger consumers, especially millennials, seek customization, convenience and organic, sustainable food – which they can often find at specialty or small format grocery stores. They also flock toward the in-store restaurant and bar concepts, and grocers across the U.S. have taken note. Albertsons, Ahold Delhaize, Aldi, Winn-Dixie and Whole Foods, among many others, have all made changes or additions in recent years to either launch their own small-format stores or remodel existing markets to equip them with the latest trends to reach a demographic that is increasingly going online.
While Publix has a strong foothold in Florida, it is seeing more competition as other grocers open up and evolve their concepts. Some of the other target locations for GreenWise Market are having similar experiences, such as Mount Pleasant, South Carolina, which is seen as a saturated grocery market. Anything that opens right now will have to leave a lasting impression on shoppers to be successful.
Time will tell if GreenWise has a major differentiating factor from other small-format stores, or if it is similar to the efforts of retailers who have launched these types of stores in urban neighborhoods or near college campuses, such as Giant Heirloom Market. Symmes said the location of the smaller format stores can help Publix tap into new markets where their larger stores may not otherwise fit.
Elements that are successful for GreenWise and can be scaled for a larger supermarket will likely be offered at Publix stores in the future. As the industry has seen, grocers often use specialty or flagship stores as a place to pilot new initiatives and find out what works before making a larger investment.
“I can see those GreenWise stores serving as a testing grounds for maybe features to expand, especially outside that Florida market, because that’s really where they have to be a lot more innovative,” said Symmes.
Even if Publix does adopt some GreenWise features into its traditional stores, the supermarkets will probably maintain their vast square footage and continue to stock items such as paper towels, dry and non-perishable food items and other similar products, which their traditional customer will still seek out in-store, while younger shoppers will buy such products online. Despite the industry’s commitment to reaching a younger demographic, the nation’s older population is growing, and this group of shoppers is going to continue to make purchases in-store for years to come.
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