Following the evolving retail food customers is what all successful food retailers do. Today the battle for share of stomach has never been so competitive nor has there been so many retailers chasing the same customers. Rutter’s, Wawa, H.E.B., Central Market, Wegmans, Whole Foods all are positioning for casual, fast casual consumers.
Foodservice Solutions Grocerant Guru, Steven Johnson has highlighted the value of bundling fresh prepared meal components as a platform for consumer choice that is both inviting and empowering for consumers. Most importantly mix and match fresh prepared meal components are key drives to the rapid growth of the grocerant niche. The equilibrium resides in the balance between price and quality.
The NPD Group found when looking at restaurant consumer trends in a recent study Defining Value: Where Consumers Choose to Eat Out,” identified five segments among restaurant consumers, the largest of which are not driven by lowest pricing and deals. Two of the largest consumer segments, foodies, and restaurant regulars, which together represent 58 percent of the market, care less about price and deals and more about the quality and freshness of their meal. Fresh ingredients and freshly prepared food are also strong motivators among fast casual visitors.” These are the same value drivers for C-store and grocery-deli prepared food that are driving change in the fresh food retail landscape.
Food consumers today want food retailers to offer fresh prepared food in a platform for convenient meal participation, differentiation and individualization for families and or singles. The convergence and focus of the consumer is key. Foodservice Solutions research found that the channel the consumer shops in is irrelevant; fresh prepared, meal component options portioned for 1 or 5 is more important. Channel blurring does not exist in the mind’s eye of the consumer. It only exist in the mind’s eye of Neanderthal brand marketers.