wealthy ones, in many cases—value accompanies
them as they shop for the other attributes, such as
flavor and sustainability, that they demand of the
brands and products they buy. Parents of young
children, Marion says, are the “holy grail” of food
shoppers because they tend to buy the most.
Food is one area of the family budget consumers
feel they still have some control over, so they tend
to shop purposefully. According a recent report
from Coresight Research, young consumers have
a preference for low-price retailers but are not particularly
brand-loyal. While older millennials tend to be the peak
demographic for traditional-format supermarkets, such as
Kroger and Albertsons, as well as Aldi, younger millennials and Gen Z shoppers also exhibit thrifty characteristics.
Shoppers under age 30 are the peak demographic for mass
merchants such as Walmart and Target.
“The sad story is that for many people, the recession
never ended,” Marion says. “The economy’s recovery has
been very uneven, and there are still a lot of people who
have to stretch their grocery budgets as far as they can. Discount stores deliver to that need.”
How Save-A-Lot Sees It
Bryant Harris, chief commercial officer of Save-A- Lot, says the St. Louis-based discounter is targeted at shoppers with household incomes of less than
$50,000. Satisfying that group is a challenge but also a big
“This group of customers is the fastest-growing in the
U.S., and they are looking to stretch their dollar further
while also looking for fresh, high-quality meal options that
are fast and convenient for their families,” Harris says.
“Our shoppers want assurances that they can trust what
they buy will provide a great value and also taste great.
They also want a seamless shopping experience and a gro-
cery option where they can get everything they need under
one roof. Save-A-Lot’s easy-to-shop stores offer a limited
assortment where customers can get in and out quickly
with high-quality, ready-to-eat meals; great packaged
foods; and fresh meat and produce options.”
The key to meeting these needs affordably, he says, is
through a private label program that leadership at Save-
A-Lot has been quietly revamping since its acquisition by
the private equity firm Onex in late 2016. Introductions
of these new items, brands, formulations and packages
are accompanying an overarching brand renewal, which
includes a new logo, a price reduction program introduced
late last year and store renovations throughout its home
market and at various new sites.
“We have been building a great merchant team commit-
Simple for You, Maybe
ted to improving our processes that ensure we source the
best private brand product for our customer. Our vendor
relationships also play a critical role,” Harris says. “The
simpler and more efficient we can make the sourcing pro-
cess for our vendors and for us, the better their cost to serve
us will be. The benefits of this work are being passed on
to the customer. We lowered prices on hundreds of items
starting last fall and are continuing to focus on keeping our
prices low on the items that matter most to our customer.
There is lots of room for further improvement. We are
really only getting started.”
Though the U. S. economy has been marked by near-re-
cord low employment—typically an environment in which
grocers can thrive—there have been indications in the debt
market this year that a slowdown or new recession could
also arrive soon. That would be another point in favor for
grocers with strong value perceptions.
For a retail concept built on the concept of “simplic- ity,” mimicking the German hard-discount style pitomized by Aldi has been a struggle—even, it
could be argued, for German-bred hard discounters.
Lidl, which arrived two years ago from Germany, appears
to have pivoted from its early missteps in site selection and
store size while continuing to tout credit for providing a
combination of price, quality and shopping surprises that
is perhaps the most “Aldi-esque” in the industry today.
Though its expansion has not been as fast as predicted,
Lidl has announced at least 25 new stores by this time next
year in a move that CEO Johannes Fieber described as a
commitment to “long-term growth in the United States.”
A Lidl spokesman declined further comment.
Save-A-Lot—now headed up by former Lidl executives—
is also facing challenges. Burdened with heavy debts that
are complicating its ongoing turnaround, competitive
pressures remain intense. Reports indicate the chain could
be sold, broken up or recapitalized. “Management has
Our shoppers want
they can trust what
they buy will provide
a great value and
also taste great.”
— Bryant Harris, Save-A-Lot