Watch Out, “American Dream,” There’s A New Dream In Town… And New Shopper Needs To Go With It

The American Dream used to be about getting bigger and better things as life progressed. Get married, get a promotion, get the big house in the suburbs, buy a minivan/SUV, and have 2.5 children to fill it all up. Although many people still aspire to this traditional American Dream (and there’s nothing wrong with that), a new dream is popping up across multiple generations – the Urban Dream.

The Urban Dream is about the freedom and experiences that an urban existence can bring you. Millennials are opting to hold off on marriage, children, and big, “grown-up” purchases like a car or home, and staying in urban areas. At the same time, Boomers are downsizing their possessions and homes, hence reducing many of their grown-up responsibilities, and moving back into cities.This creates two groups that have fewer responsibilities (home/car ownership, parenthood, etc.) and more freedom to do what they please. And city living gives them exactly what they want: more access to new unique cultural experiences and a more social way of life.

People living the Urban Dream have a new unique set of shopper needs. Instead of stocking up the car full of home goods, groceries, and Home Depot goods for DIY projects, urban shoppers rely on smaller, more focused shopping trips and online shopping. Luckily, retailers are taking notice.

Many big box retailers have sprung into the small format competition, attempting to be the most convenient and useful retailer in space-confined urban areas. Target is opening its first small format (20,000 sq. ft.) store – TargetExpress – in Minneapolis. Walmart has also tested the small format waters with its Walmart Express stores. These retailers can provide many of the basic home goods, clothes, and food staples, which are high-frequency items that shoppers definitely still need.

Photo Source: NY Times

Other retailers have opted to take the straight-to-your-door approach. AmazonFresh and AmazonAir promise to bring fresh food or pretty much anything your heart desires to your door within 48 hours or less. Best Buy and Walmart are also testing same-day delivery services. Instacart, an online grocery-delivery app, gives shoppers access to a variety of grocery retailers, such as Safeway, Whole Foods, and Costco, and delivers your custom grocery list straight to your door in one hour. What a huge perk when you don’t have a car and live on the 10th floor of your apartment building.

Photo Source: – home page; Venture Beat Article, “Instacart Growing Rapidly,” 2014.

What other shopper needs will the Urban Dream reveal, and what will retailers and manufacturers do next to fulfill those needs?