The Friday Checkout is a weekly column providing more insight on the news, rounding up the announcements you may have missed and sharing what’s to come.
Are print circulars for supermarkets going out of style? It depends on who you ask.
Giant Eagle has decided resume mailing printed weekly circulars to consumers in the Cleveland area and Pittsburgh, while Kroger recently opted to phase out home delivery of printed circulars in regions across the country and switch customers in the affected markets, which include stores in Michigan, Indianapolis, Mississippi and Portland, Oregon, over to a digital format.
While these changes are likely specific to each grocer’s needs, they show how the companies are rethinking printed ads in the age of digital innovation and could be signals of changes to come across the grocery industry.
Research in recent years has documented a shift by consumers away from print ads in favor of online ones. That change likely accelerated during the pandemic as COVID-19 impacted mail volume and printing costs. Survey data from Inmar Intelligence in 2021 found that, for the first time ever, consumers used electronic coupons more frequently than ones in paper free-standing inserts in 2020.
The line between print and online is blurry, though. Some grocers using print ads in circulars are putting QR codes in their printed marketing materials. Giant Eagle, for example, is using QR codes to direct shoppers to its website to learn more about its discounts.
FMI—The Food Industry Association (FMI) said in a report last year that 55% of surveyed retailers found print circulars very effective and also noted that widely used digital circulars and promotions sent by text are not as effective as more traditional outreach methods.
Giant Eagle’s switch back to print seems to support the idea that customers aren’t ready yet to give up printed ads.
“Despite longtime predictions about the demise of retail print circulars, this marketing vehicle is rated as one of the most effective tools, as is in-store promotions, another traditional strategy,” the FMI report noted.
Maybe print isn’t dead after all.
In case you missed it
Frictionless checkout makes grocery moves
With an eye on powering autonomous full-sized supermarkets, Israeli computer-based vision maker Trigo recently launched its technology at French retailer Auchan’s headquarters. That location in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, France, offers a tap-and-go experience where shoppers can tap their credit or debit card on the entrance gate.
The partnership makes the first time that Trigo is using its AI-powered frictionless shopping and retail analytics solution in France. The company also has its tech deployed in stores run by Tesco in the UK, Rewe and Netto in Germany, Aldi Nord in The Netherlands, Wakefern Food Corp. in the U.S. and Shufersal in Israel.
The tie-up comes a few months after Trigo bagged $100 million in equity financing from new and existing investors.
Make it family size
Kroger-owned meal kit maker Home Chef this week debuted a “Family Menu” geared towards serving families with promises of “convenient, easy-to-make recipes and approachable flavors that everyone at the table will enjoy.” The new offerings come at a time when grocers are increasingly looking to make meal prep more convenient and accessible to consumers amid high inflation, which has only begun to slow in recent months.
The weekly rotating menu of more than 10 meals, which range from $6.99 per serving to $8.99 per serving, includes options like pulled pork enchiladas with peppers and onions, one-pan BBQ al pastor chicken tacos with pineapple salsa, and lasagna-style Bolognese Gemelli with spinach and ricotta. The recipes on the Family Menu come in four-serving increments.
Employee discount is back
Hy-Vee has an employee discount program again nearly three months after temporarily pulling the plug, according to local news site We Are Iowa.
The Midwestern grocer previously told Grocery Dive that it suspended the employee discount program, which gave employees and one member of their household a 10% everyday discount, to revamp it after seeing an uptick in fraudulent activity related to the program. While the 10% discount on Hy-Vee purchases is available to its employees, it’s unclear if the same discount applies to other household members or if other previous perks — like 20% off on dine-in orders at Wahlburgers and Market Grille and a free Hy-Vee Plus membership — have changed, We Are Iowa noted.
Number of the week: 3
That’s the percentage point slip that supermarkets recorded for their online penetration in 2022 compared with 2021, according to newly released data from Brick Meets Click and Mercatus. As high inflation prompts money-saving habits, the firms found that upper-income online grocery shoppers have turned to retailers like Target and Walmart — posing stiffer competition for grocers.
How’s inflation doing?
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics is set to announce Consumer Price Index data for April on Wednesday. The numbers will show whether inflation’s slowdown in recent months has continued.