Acosta Group Releases Retail Predictions For 2024

Acosta Group has announced its top five 2024 retail predictions, identifying how brands and retailers can win shopper loyalty, drive sales, and achieve efficiencies in another year of anticipated marketplace disruption.

“While we expect 2024 to remain as complex as 2023, brands and retailers will have opportunities to better understand and meet the evolving demands of their customers, securing meaningful growth for their businesses,” said Colin Stewart, EVP, Business Intelligence, Acosta Group. “We formulate our predictions based on the insights of our retail experts and industry thought leaders, as well as proprietary Acosta Group studies conducted throughout the year with shoppers, brand owners, and retailers.”

Acosta Group is a collective of retail, marketing, and food service agencies empowering brands and retailers to win in the modern marketplace.

Acosta Group’s five predictions:

  • Driving Growth Will Take Standout Creative Measures
  • Seamless Retail Redefines Shopper Delight
  • AI Propels Retail Efficiency and Shopper Experience
  • Shoppers Prioritize What’s NOT in Their Products
  • Retailers Turn Up the Heat to Attract Diners

Driving Growth Will Take Standout Creative Measures

Acosta Group’s recent Retailer Confidential Report shows that 90% of top U.S. retail leaders prioritize unit growth in 2024. Strong promotions will be key in another year of cautious spending, channel shifting, private label purchasing, and value messaging.

“Consumers will respond to bold, creative promotions that provide them enriched value,” said Kathy Risch, SVP, Thought Leadership and Shopper Insights, Acosta Group. “Smart retailers, brands, delivery services, and restaurants are stepping up to create promotions that resonate,” continued Risch. 71% of top retailers say they are increasing promotions in 2024, whether dollars-off purchases, cross-marketing partnerships, or other value-based offerings.

Retail media networks that deliver measurable ROI are increasingly key to an effective promotional strategy. According to Insider Intelligence, U.S. retail media ad spend will reach $60B in 2024, delivering 70-90% margins vs. the 3-4% seen in traditional retail profits, per Boston Consulting Group.

When developing a promotion strategy, Acosta Group advises:

  • Create promotions that don’t erode margins for retailers, brands, or shoppers
  • Deploy/evolve revenue growth management (RGM) programs
  • Practice disciplined post-promotion analytics

Related Article: Acosta: Multicultural Shoppers’ Influence is Increasing

Seamless Retail Redefines Shopper Delight

The consumer shopping experience is not linear. Retailers and brands are enabling seamless shopping at the moment – anywhere, anytime, for anything – and dialing in to reach consumers with innovative tactics and disruptive technology. Retailers will continue investing in store and digital upgrades to meet shopper demands.

Key findings:

  • 56% of omnichannel shoppers prefer shopping in-store for groceries and household items, and 69% of grocery sales in 2023 were digitally influenced (Grocery Doppio)
  • 63% of shoppers use an app on their phone inside a store while grocery shopping – that number jumps to 80% for Gen Z and 81% for Millennials (Acosta Group)
  • Omnichannel shoppers spend two to four times more than single-channel shoppers (Groceryshop, 2023)

Based on this shopper data, a few opportunities include:

  • Take a new approach: integrate trade, marketing, and retail media spend, targeting specific shoppers and need-states with both in-store and online merchandising to maximize budget, grow sales, and improve margin
  • Digital shelf: strengthen product detail page (PDP) searchable words, hero images, infographics, and videos; understand ratings and reviews; continuously monitor results
  • Physical shelf: place a sharper focus on share of shelf and assortment optimization to meet shopper demand and keep shelves stocked

Ai Propels Retail Efficiency and Shopper Experience

The most successful applications of AI will drive efficiencies that improve productivity as they benefit shoppers with an enhanced, more customized shopping experience. Gen Z is the most comfortable with retailers using AI to improve their shopping experience via personalized rewards/recommendations. According to Grocery Doppio, increased investment in AI is expected to drive $113B in value by 2025.

“The strategic use of AI helps retail operate smarter and faster,” said Stewart. Three quarters of retail executives surveyed believe they could go out of business if they don’t adopt AI in the next five years, according to Grocery Doppio.

Growth opportunities for retailers include:

  • Prioritizing use cases for supply chain and logistics efficiencies, implementing localized assortment and price/promotion optimization, dietary/nutrition recommendations, workforce efficiency to streamline operations, personalization/targeted deals, and product development

Shoppers Prioritize What’s Not in Their Products

The acceleration of the clean label trend in U.S. food was sparked by the passing of The California Food Safety Act of 2023, which takes effect in January 2027.

  • The act bans four harmful chemicals, impacting up to 12,000 primarily food products from processed foods sold or processed in California
  • Companies will be required to switch to ingredients now used in the EU and elsewhere, and several large brands have already pulled the additives
  • 41% of consumers have heard of clean label, relating it to natural and healthy, and 78% find it appealing when provided a definition, per FMCG Gurus
  • Natural and organic shoppers’ values will go more mainstream

Retailers and brands will benefit from:

  • Understanding that analytics segmenting key label attributes will be important
  • Actively communicating what’s NOT in the product
  • Leveraging AI for customized shopper lists
  • Using promotion and digital/social media to educate shoppers and demonstrate value

Retailers Turn Up the Heat to Attract Diners

There will be competition for shopper share of stomach between retailers, c-stores, and restaurants in 2024, further blurring the lines between food service and retail as it also drives new opportunities for channel growth and meets changing shopper demands.

Retailers see the opportunity to expand made-to-order meals to attract cost-conscious shoppers who want restaurant quality solutions anytime, anywhere. Acosta Group’s Retailer Confidential Report reflects that 71% of retail executives are doubling down with fresh foods.

Activity across all channels:

  • Retailers: replicating the restaurant experience with food halls and local restaurant partnerships
  • C-stores: responding to requests for hot foods and new, globally inspired flavors for breakfast
  • Restaurants: bringing diners back for the benefits and convenience amidst continued high grocery costs and the return to in-office work

Some food for thought for retailers:

  • Enrich the in-store experience and create reasons to linger, sample, and dine
  • Create cross-promotions to provide shoppers with meal solutions across all meal occasions
  • Elevate digital integration

“We are excited about the opportunities to connect with consumers in more customized ways in 2024, building brand and retailer growth with the right mix of services and solutions,” said Stewart. “Insights-based innovation and the ability to stay nimble remains critical in meeting changing shopper behaviors and market needs.”