Wednesday, November 9, 2022

Evolving Restaurant, Bodega, and C-store Customers are Dynamic and Migrating to Different Formats


Grocerant niche Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food had been driving customer adoption and migration in every sector of retail food sales for the past 9+ years.  Combine that with forced home confinement during the pandemic and now inflation is there are you asking your self What Next?

If your year over year customer counts are down or trending flat you know that your customers are eating somewhere else.  Let’s face it, American consumers are not all losing weight. Man-Up your customer are moving on. 

According to Steven Johnson Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions®, consumers are dynamic not static.  They don’t want to take the time to cook from scratch, don’t want to do dishes night after night.  They want full flavored food from around the world not just next door.   On top of everything else, consumers want there meal fast and or delivered. 

While Foodservice Solutions® is the global leader in Grocerant niche research and Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant ScoreCards set the industry standard.  NPD excels at evolving eating patterns.  Let’s see just what they have found and I hope it can help you evolve your food retail programs.

All of you know that the COVID-19 pandemic prompted significant changes to the rhythm of Americans' eating patterns, disrupting the usually predictable habits formed by daily routines and needs. Now more than two years later, just as these patterns were returning to pre-pandemic normalcy, inflation has disrupted them again.

So, according to a recent report by The NPD Group, "The rate of change in U.S. consumers' eating behaviors continues at a dizzying pace," said David Portalatin, report author and NPD food industry advisor. "Anyone hoping to return to normal must understand that there is no normal, only an ongoing evolution as we respond to new realities."

According to the recently released 2022 edition of "Eating Patterns in America," six macro themes are shaping the new realities of food and beverage consumption behaviors:

1. Economic transition — Consumer spending experienced a stimulus-fueled surge in 2020 and 2021 that extended into the first quarter of 2022, after which inflation and economic uncertainty rose to the forefront. The positive and negative disruptions in the past few years could make year-over-year economic metrics less straightforward than they would ordinarily be.

2. Inflation — Consumers are unlikely to reduce their food and beverage consumption in the face of inflationary pressure, but they will find ways to manage and allocate their food dollars. Inflation is more moderate for food away from home than food at home, with the typical restaurant meal costing 3.4 times more than in-home food sourced from retail, according to the report. To offset rising food costs, consumers are hunting for bargains when they shop for groceries, eating more meals at home, and cutting back on restaurant visits.

3. Income bifurcation — The difference in behaviors among income groups is a key theme shaping the food and beverage landscape. Trends of upper- and lower-income consumers are starkly divergent, and income bifurcation has profound implications for the total share of stomach trends, retailer and restaurant choice, dealing and promotions and brands vs. private labels.

4. Sticky behaviors — Many eating behaviors adopted during the pandemic reflect a rapid acceleration of behaviors that were established long before the pandemic, such as consumers eating most of their meals at home. Food and beverage behaviors may continue to normalize, but the consumer landscape has been transformed as consumers created new capacities and restaurant operators expanded capabilities to serve a more home-centric consumer.

5. Total wellness — Consumers are finding a balance between foods that contribute to their physical well-being and foods that serve more emotional needs. They are increasingly in tune with the functional attributes of various foods and beverages that can contribute to both sides of this equation.

6. Return to convenience — Going back to school and work create time pressures for home cooks and foodservice customers alike. While home-centricity remains more prevalent, the return of mobility reintroduced the need for speed and convenience. For some occasions, this means a visit to a quick-service restaurant, but for others, consumers want to retain their new at-home capacity while incorporating some shortcuts or time-saving techniques.

"America's eating patterns are shifting to adjust to new realities, and food manufacturers, foodservice operators, and retailers will need to adjust their offerings and services accordingly," Portalatin said. "Although the one constant is change, there is a constant to count on: the U.S. consumer will always need to eat, and then it's a matter of figuring out what, how, when and where." Not bad, thanks NPD.

Foodservice Solutions® team is here to help you drive top line sales and bottom-line profits. Are you looking a customer ahead? Does your messaging look more like yesterday that tomorrow?  Visit for more information or contact: Remember success does leave clues and we just may the clue you need to propel your continued success.

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Larger Share of Stomach?

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