5 Top Takeaways from IDDBA 2018 – Tips for reaching new customers for grocers and food retailers

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Ginger Hardage shares the importance of people in brand building

The annual IDDBA (International Dairy Deli Bakery Association) Convention saw over 10,000 attendees and 2000 exhibitors descend on New Orleans for a few days of food, fun and freshness. As with any food-centric show, the eats were the centerpiece of daily activity,  but there were many other learnings that look at how all of us do business and why the customer is at the epicenter of everything we do. Here are five things that stood out to our team from the IDDBA show:

  1. What is important to Millennials will shape how food retailers do business. A recurring theme throughout the keynote presentations was that Executives must start to think like Millennials and work like Baby Boomers. According to show presenter Jennifer Fleiss, CEO of JetBlack and Rent the Runway, the customer not only wants, but now expects: efficiency, personalization, a purpose (more on that later), authenticity, and an experience. Millennials interact with brands on their own terms, so many of the traditional methods of reaching them and engaging them have drastically changed. Brands that want to succeed with Millennials must focus on trust, freshness, the story of your brand, and interact on the channels and devices they use.
  2. Approach your customers like an “incoming freshman.” A key theme of CEO of Albertsons, Jim Donald’s, presentation was to “be a freshman” and approach your customers ready to take risks, be curious, try new things and ask questions. He echoed that he approached his first day at Albertsons like his first day of college, and the speech he gave at IDDBA – with curiosity, optimism and a willingness to learn and grow. NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers (who we learned is a big fan of pumpkin pie, by the way) also shared this sentiment, as he related his story of learning from NFL great, Brett Favre, and the importance of getting to play behind a legend and absorb what he could.

    Fresh deli display from IDDBA exhibitors

  3. “The future of fresh” is upon us. Throughout the show floor, it was obvious that fresh, real, and transparent is key in consumer’s minds, and retailers are recognizing this. Consumers care where their food comes from, and the stories that accompany who makes their food. Packaging callouts were more prevalent than ever, with nearly every product having some sort of reference to the health benefits, or lack of harmful additives. The major of displays on the floor had crystal-clear deli cases or product applications flanked with fresh herbs, fruits and veggies.
  4. The stories we tell and company culture is more important than ever. People remember stories, and the way a brand integrates their “story” into their approach will dictate consumer perception. Keynote speaker Ginger Hardage (inset)stressed the mantra “Put people first.” Taken less literally, a story can be how company culture in woven into how you do business, and the importance of impacting the community is at the core of what you do. A company and culture that gives back breeds a sense of pride and purpose in their work. Ask your leadership “why do we exist, and how can we embody purpose as an organization?”
  5. Technology has changed how we merchandise and interact with customers forever. Another highlight of Jim Donald’s presentation was his assertion that “The way we used to merchandise is gone and it’s not coming back.” The center of the store is no longer the hub of the experience, and scan-and-go technology, social media, and the impact of automation will forever change the retail landscape. The rise of the “super consumer,” the affluent, digitally-savvy and often healthy customer, cannot be understated, as the merging of affluence and influence can mean big impact for brands.

Overall, the 2018 IDDBA show was a success on all fronts, and the Duke Foods team was honored to meet and interact with the show exhibitors, presented and attendees.


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