• For marketers and retailers alike, Instagram is, unlike Facebook, somewhat unknown waters. The potential for sales is there but it’s taking a little bit of time to really take off in a meaningful way.

Shopping and eating: a match made in heaven

For marketers and retailers alike, Instagram is, unlike Facebook, somewhat unknown waters. The potential for sales is there but it’s taking a little bit of time to really take off in a meaningful way.

On the other hand, for foodies Instagram is the social network to be on. Similarly restaurants and food retailers are capitalising all about food in the social media: pictures or videos of mouthwatering meals and snacks designed to make you hungry.

And it works. Buzzfeed’s very own ‘Tasty’ offshoot has it’s own cookbook. And nearly 82 million ‘likes’ on Facebook. That’s a big potential audience.

Naturally, this trend about food photography hasn’t simply happened overnight. Our love for food has being growing for some time.

And here’s the good part: retailers could benefit.

As food and dining become more and more a part of our daily lives and we all begin to develop an experiential relationship with food, retailers could capitalise.

Let’s take a look at how

Going out isn’t going out of fashion

People love going out. For some that’s why they might go shopping; it offers them the chance to socialise and be amongst people.

Restaurants do something similar. It’s particularly appealing as a pastime to those that would normally go out anyway: young people.

So it’s no wonder that Forbes have reported that “Millennials spend 44 percent of their food dollars – or $2,921 annually – on eating out , according to the Food Institute's analysis of the United States Department.”

But it’s not just in the US. In the UK AOL report that “confident millennials are spending more on eating out and drinking”.

What’s worth noting, however, is that even more young people than ever are going out to eat. So how can retailers capitalise on this growing trend?

I have an IKEA!

Sweden, who would believe this? Sweden. That’s right, the Swedish household giant IKEA are currently utilising shoppers’ love of food.

As Forbes reported last summer, “the company will hold a do-it-yourself restaurant concept in September. With workshops ranging from food waste to future food trends, the cafe will serve up IKEA ’s Swedish dishes, and offer visitors the chance to cook “brunch, lunch or dinner under the supervision of an expert head chef, then sit down to enjoy your meal together.””

Ok, so whilst your company might not have a restaurant brand like IKEA does, it demonstrates how  retailers might be able to take their brand to a new type of consumer: the one that values experiences like eating out and needs it to be part of their shopping trip.

Micah Solomon makes the point that “when shopping, millennials they prefer an “experiential” retail environment, where shopping is more than a transaction and the pleasure of being in the store isn’t limited to the goods that customers take home.”

So if, for example, you’re thinking of expanding your business or the number of sites you occupy, it might be worth considering being around somewhere that serves food. Just having that sort of potential experience on hand could mean more bodies through the door.

But is this new food-lovin’ criminal customer new? Why has the culinarily-conscious customer emerged? And what could it mean for retailers?

It’s the experience that counts

For younger customers, as The Atlantic’s Derek Thompson and Jordan Weissmann point out, “if the millennials are not quite a post-driving and post-owning generation, they’ll almost certainly be a less-driving and less-owning generation.”

This generation cannot afford to own houses or cars, it seems, in the same way their parents’ and grandparents’ generations could.

So where do they spend their money?

Well, in the same article Thompson and Weissmann note “simple arithmetic says that if Americans spend less money on cars and houses, they’ll have more money left over to spend or save—and not all of that will go to electronic gadgets.”

Savvy retailers and service providers would do well to remember this and ensure they’re in a good position to provide what the new, young consumer wants.

It should also be remembered that living trends are changing, too, with research suggesting young people want to live in places where “residents can stroll among shops and restaurants or hop on public transportation.”

Perhaps, then, small towns and regenerated urban spaces, rather than designated out of town shopping malls, for example, might be the future retail hubs.

The question now is whether, as a retailer, you see the future of your business in young people and in providing both an experience alongside any goods.

You can ponder that question yourself…

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