Supermarket Social Scenes
Some day a couple is going to tell their kids about how
they met … at Kroger, Safeway or Wegmans. It may not be an entirely
new phenomenon, but singles, at least in places where there are high concentrations
of them, are finding that the supermarket is the place to find a date, if not
a life-long partner.
Among the stores that have gotten attention for doubling
as places to find dates are the "Social" Safeway in Washington, D.C.,
a (Club) Wegmans in Prince George County and the Brewers Yard Kroger in Ohio.
Post report last month described the scene at the Wegmans
"Singles hook up in front of bins of fresh produce; couples gather
for dates in the grocery store’s sit-down restaurant; and shoppers sway to
music from overhead speakers, singing along with Prince, Luther Vandross and
Elizabeth Ribarsky, a professor at interpersonal communications
at the University of Illinois in Springfield, told the Post grocery
stores are good places to meet for singles because they feel safer in familiar
"There is a lot of opportunity to open conversations without things that
you would think of as a pickup line," said Prof. Ribarsky. She pointed
to finding common likes in food as a means to start up a conversation.
however, are not just for singles. The Brewers Yard Kroger has proven to be
a good place for couples to hang out, as well. A Columbus Dispatch article
pointed to how Ian and Katherine Nickey went to the store to go shopping one
Friday night, but stayed to hear live music in the store’s bar. The two have
gone back on other occasions since their first trip.
"For us, it’s a convenience, and it makes the shopping fun. It’s a great
concept," Mr. Nickey said.
"A lot of our regular customers use the opportunity to pick up their groceries
but also take time to sit down, enjoy music, spend time with friends and enjoy
their Kroger family," Amy McCormick, a spokesperson for the chain, told
the Dispatch. "The store is designed for that offering and to be
a gathering place for customers to come in and let us entertain them.
"We’re more than happy to have 80-plus people who want to spend their
Friday nights at Kroger," she said.
Lee Peterson, executive vice president
of creative services at WD Partners and a RetailWire BrainTrust member, told
the Dispatch that grocers are
looking for effective ways to differentiate their offering from the competition.
"The pressure on traditional grocers is immense," Mr. Peterson said. "They’ve
got price pressure from Walmart, Walgreens and dollar stores. And then pressure
from specialty stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe, which specialize in
offering consumers an ‘experience’ when they shop."
- New Prince George’s Wegmans becoming a social hot spot – The Washington
- Checking out more than just produce – The Washington Post
- New hangout supermarket – The Columbus Dispatch
Discussion Questions: Will we see more supermarkets play up the social aspect of the shopping experience to try and build deeper connections with consumers? What are the up and downsides to social shopping environments and how should stores approach marketing this difference to consumers?