Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Grab-N-Go Grocerant Meals aka Dinner in 2022


Food industry channels are all reporting that when they ask customers what it is they want for dinner, it is grab-n-go, grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared mix and match meal components or full bundled meals. According to Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®.

Angela Hanson recently reported, “When a hungry customer makes a prepared food purchase, they typically face a binary choice: made-to-order, which maximizes freshness and customization, or grab-and-go, which offers items that can be consumed within the next few hours as they are out and about. Changing consumer behavior, however, has prompted increased sales of a third option: grab-and-go-home.  “

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a shift in consumer behavior has seen convenience store grab-and-go visits decline 7.2 percent, while grab-and-go-home visits are up 3.4 percent, according to The Coca-Cola Co.'s iSHOP Study.

Stephanie McMahan, category leadership, small store shopper insights, North America operating unit, The Coca-Cola Co , stated, "Because consumers are spending more time at home and within the proximity of their local community, their needs have changed," … "Retailers can capture more grab-and-go-home trips with expanded immediate-consumption and future-consumption food and beverage product offers that reach beyond in-store shoppers and help consumers solve the need to provide for additional household members and occasions.”

Convenience store chain Kwik Trip Inc. divides its grab-and-go-home offering into two types: hot and ready to eat, or heat it when you get home. Kwik Trip Foodservice Director Paul Servais, stated, "We are seeing both of these segments grow," …"it is a hard business to break into” and “no one has completely figured this out."  (I guess they should have called the Grocerant Guru®)

There is no doubt that the shift toward grab-and-go-home largely comes from today’s consumers gaining a new perspective on old purchase motivators: speed and convenience.

McMahan continued, "Consumers are now evolving the previous 'grab-and-go' mindset to a 'grab-for-myself-and-other-people' behavior,". "While time is always a consideration, when consumers are on their way home to hungry household members, the speed of grab-and-go-home may be even more appealing."

There is more than just lunch or dinner. On the surface, it would appear that this increased focus on quick food purchases for hungry people at home could boost the dinner daypart, which has long been a challenge for the c-store industry. But Coca-Cola's research shows that grab-and-go-home trips span multiple dayparts relatively evenly, in part because of the pandemic era work-from-home lifestyle. In 2021, a quarter of grab-and-go-home trips took place in the morning, 21 percent occurred in the afternoon, and 27 percent occurred in the evening.

All foodservice retailers need to consider, catering to grab-and-go-home customers doesn't have to mean offering something drastically different from their existing grab-and-go lineup. The main difference lies in emphasizing accessibility and the ability to purchase multiple portions.

Grab-and-go-mix and match bundled meal options can include a wide variety of options, including larger individual product sizes, packaging designed for multiples of the same item, bundle deals, meal prep kits, take-home meals, and more.

Patrick Sebring, vice president of c-store sales at Smithfield Culinary, "When getting started, it's best if retailers do a bit of experimentation," advises. "With limited space and facing difficult labor issues, consider offering a couple of different items/packaging types at first and see how it goes. Look at what sells vs. what doesn't.”

Texas-based Texas Born (TXB) convenience stores are all about bundling, according to CEO Kevin Smartt. TXB offers such bundles as six tacos in a package, or large quantities of chicken to cater to families. "We find those customers are typically good repeat customers for us. They appreciate the bundles," Smartt said.

With the effects of inflation being felt across the board, offering grab-and-go-home bundles can give c-stores an advantage over quick-service restaurants and other foodservice retailers.

"People will be looking for value opportunities for take-home," Smartt pointed out.

Servais recommends that convenience retailers seeking a starting point for grab-and-go-home begin with hot offerings such as chicken wings and pizza, particularly in family-size.

Regular readers of this blog know that Kwik Trip is known for its Kitchen Cravings Take Home Meals program. Launched in 2019, the meals are prepared daily and individually packaged with full cooking instructions on the label. Standard selections include customer favorites like cheesy chicken casserole, beef stroganoff and multiple pasta meals, along with a smaller lineup of limited-time offers (LTOs).

"We have a strong core menu now with things like mac 'n cheese, chicken alfredo, meatloaf," Servais said. "The LTO selections are more about us finding the right meals for the future. Every month, we introduce two meals for a limited time, and we are looking for meals that 'stick.'"

C-store operators should not expect sales to skyrocket immediately as it takes time to change customers' buying habits, the foodservice executive cautioned.

"Long-term, we look for the Take Home Meals program to grow and become a significant part of our food sales, but we realize this will take a while," Servais said. Are you prepared to win within the grocerant niche?

Don’t over reach. Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing ideations look more like yesterday than tomorrow? Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions® can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: Steve@FoodserviceSolutions.us or visit us on our social media sites by clicking the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter

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