Natalie Berg, global research director at Planet Retail, considers the top trends which will influence and shape UK supermarkets in 2015
“Whereas 2014 was largely focused on price, we are expecting 2015 to be the year of differentiation. The Big Four supermarkets are now looking dangerously homogenous with their various price-cutting and brand-matching schemes. To survive this period of unprecedented change for the sector, retailer brands must be strikingly clear, targeted and, most of all, consistent. Therefore, we expect to see greater bids for differentiation next year.
“The digital war will overtake the price war. Next year will bring some very real progress with mobile technology that will entirely change the way shoppers behave both in and out of stores. From home-scanning devices to personalised promotions pinged to shoppers’ smartphones, grocery shopping will become a whole lot easier in 2015. Even the less tech-savvy shoppers will enjoy the ability to skip queues by paying by phone.
“Despite genuine signs of a consumer recovery, we have to keep in mind that grocery shopping habits have altered permanently. Discount supermarkets will continue to gain market share in 2015 while we expect continued growth on the premium spectrum. Forget difficult trading quarters – the Big Four are in for another few turbulent years.
“Our only concern for the likes of Aldi and Lidl is that they may become victims of their own success. As they add more bells and whistles – from range extensions to self-checkouts to accepting credit cards – they risk heaping too many costs on a business model founded on simplicity. But, for the meantime, discounters will remain the most disruptive force in grocery retail through 2015.
“The 2014 response to the discounters was: if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. This isn’t sustainable in our view. To differentiate, supermarkets must exploit the discounters’ weak spots – limited assortment and lack of an online offering. Click & collect will certainly gain momentum in 2015, building on the fantastic progress made this year. Asda and Waitrose are really leading the way here and we are excited to see new alternative collection points being added for 2015, giving consumers even more choice.”
Here are our 5 predictions for 2015:
1. A race for most convenient instore experience
2. The death of the loyalty card
3. Greater collaboration
4. Home scanning
5. (Even more) alternative collection points