Shop Talk

Retailers, consumers and prices

Food sellers: I’m no Twit!

June 18, 2009

grocerylist1Just when it seems like everyone is using Twitter, we learn that is not really the case. 

A panel discussion on Thursday at the CIES World Food Business Summit in New York featured four prominent industry leaders: Sara Lee CEO Brenda Barnes, Cargill CEO Greg Page, Kraft CEO Irene Rosenfeld and Jeff Noddle, executive chairman of grocery chain Supervalu. The conversation turned to how the panelists’ companies would stay relevant with the next generation of consumers.

Understanding Generation Y, whose oldest members are already in the work force, will be key to success in the future, said Noddle.  

Very broadly defined, Generation Y includes more than 70 million Americans born from 1977 to 2002.  

“They will measure their purchases on different criteria than those who came before them,” Noddle said, noting that younger consumers were more concerned with issues of sustainability and health. “We’re trying to understand that and trying to project how do you respond to that. Even though they may not have the dollar power today, they will. And I think that’s a critical element.”

Sara Lee’s Barnes agreed, noting that today’s younger consumers “grew up on the Internet” and that they “have every bit of information at their fingertips in a nanosecond.”

Moderator Bill Rancic, the first winner on Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice” reality television show, asked who on the panel was “tweeting” (and therefore a “twit”). 

Nobody was.

Then Rancic asked the same question of the crowd, which included an international array of grocery retailers, manufacturers, suppliers and consultants.

Only a handful of arms went up.

After bragging that his wife, E! News anchor and managing editor Giuliana Rancic has over 650,000 followers on the social networking site, Rancic exclaimed: “It is just taking over, and it’s not just in the U.S.”

Twitter may be taking over, but it clearly has not penetrated the grocery aisle just yet.

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