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NEW YORK -- While food retailers in several channels try to capture the take-home meal shopper by providing solutions for consumers' time-crunched lives, an obstacle lies in the path to success—convenience is defined differently for various consumers, according to a study by The Hartman Group, which was cited in a Bnet.com report.
"There are two basic kinds of convenience. The classic kind, which is oriented to yesterday’s established foods made quick and easy to eat. Certain channels, mass discounters, convenience stores and mainstream grocery stores, are associated loosely with this kind of food, but consumers will tell you they can find 'complete meals' in almost every channel," Laurie Demeritt, president of The Harman Group, said in the report. "The emerging form of convenience—re-imagined convenience—is one that consumers are likely to seek out at channels with a brand image strongly rooted in a passion for food."
The study found 66 percent of consumers shopping for food and beverages said convenience is very if not extremely important. However, 34 percent feel as strongly about brand names, and 73 percent of respondents are focused on price, despite the recession, according to the report.
In defining convenience and considering costs, Hartman found 23 percent of consumers wouldn’t pay anything extra for convenience food, while 20 percent would pay up to 5 percent extra and 30 percent would be willing to pay as much as 10 percent extra, the Web site reported.
But other factors are weighed as well, including time and quality. Some consumers mix food and merchandise shopping trips, and others make different choices when the focus is primarily on food, and apply a new set of convenience standards, according to the report.
The notion of consumers' desire for one-stop shopping is also flawed. "Despite the lip-service consumers give to one-stop shopping, the evidence strongly suggests that very few Americans engage in it to get their weekly food needs met," Demeritt told Bnet.com. "Most consumers visit at least two different kinds of stores for different kinds of products, for example, they buy all packaged foods at the mass discounter and all fresh foods at the grocery store. Multi-channel shopping has grown during the recession in the hunt for good deals, bucking one element of convenience that mainstream grocers used to count on."
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