Andy Lancaster reflects on how we learn and makes comparisons with how we shop for food
Food retailing is being turned upside down!
Who could have predicted the rise of Lidl and Aldi and the related challenges faced by Asda, Morrison’s, Sainsbury’s and Tesco?
It would be easy to think the swing is primarily about discounting, but that would miss other key factors reshaping our food shopping habits.
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There is the growing impact of online companies such as Ocado with 20 per cent of UK people now shopping online for food each month1. Adverts are springing up for pre-selected meal boxes to ease the effort for busy people. Digital sites also save your preferences and baskets for the next shop.
The rise of online grocery companies has surprisingly improved the fortunes of smaller convenience stores, with online shoppers favouring a quick stop at a corner shop for ‘top ups’.
The colossal sums of money invested by some companies in out-of-town mega-supermarkets have not proved a sound outlay, with garage-based micro-markets now capturing a significant food spend.
There is also a growth in occasional high-quality purchases at artisan food markets or delicatessens.
On the surface it may seem a complex picture, but the message is simple; consumer behaviour and demand has changed.
Customer choice now drives the agenda, not powerful providers.
Workplace learning is also going through a revolution and the synergies with the shifts in grocery shopping are uncanny.
Learners are rightly gaining a greater say and control in what and how they want to learn; the provider no longer dictates the diet!
Many organisations took advantage of large, mega-stocked learning management systems with hundreds of courses designed to meet every need, but they’ve actually proved untargeted and underused. Less often proves to be more and with learning ‘aisles’ so full of products, it’s often hard to know where to start.
We no longer enjoy being overloaded with so much content that we can hardly cope, preferring a more agile experience grabbing essential learning needs for the day. Bite-size is a much healthier response to satisfy a learning pang!
There was a time when we defaulted to expensive learning solutions created by subject experts but now there’s a drive for more cost-effective solutions, especially with tight budgets. These products may not have all the bells and whistles of more costly counterparts, but economy options are proving surprisingly appetising and nourishing even if we don’t always recognise the names.
With life so busy, it’s often too costly in time and fuel to drive somewhere for a face-to-face learning option. Digital is increasingly proving more convenient with a wide offer of online solutions that can be accessed just in time, whenever and wherever its suits. Not only that, the intelligent web suggests other linked learning that may be of interest, all without me getting out of my chair.
Then sometimes we need to get the essentials in-the-flow as we go. We may be focusing on driving to a destination or goal and it’s better to grab the necessary learning en route.
The rise of cost-effective, agile, bite-size and digital instruction doesn’t mean that I can’t have the occasional treat where I engage with a true learning artisan who can offer a quality experience well worth the spend!
I often get asked where to look to help shape learning strategy and I’m inclined to think about business alignment, emerging technology, neuroscience or applying insights from data.
But, I never would have imagined suggesting a look at trends in retailing. But then again it may provide real food for thought …