The Food Marketing Institute (FMI) on June 10, 2015, introduced its 41st annual U.S. Grocery Shopper Trends study, which focuses on a deep shift in shopping and mealtime distinctions, ultimately demonstrating new patterns regarding what and why we buy, who is on task and when we shop.
The executive summary outlines current trends influencing shoppers and shopping; several demographic influences that are coalescing to form a new shared shopper paradigm; facts and figures that argue for more shared meals as a family; and updates to shopper values, including a convergence of personal health and community wellness ideas.
FMI President and CEO Leslie G. Sarasin presented the study findings during a keynote address at FMI Connect, the food retail industry’s premier event.
Sarasin noted in her address, “More and more people are playing a larger role in grocery shopping. In fact, 57% of the population report that it does all or most of the grocery shopping; 26% says it shares in at least 50% of the grocery shopping, resulting in a whopping 83% of U.S. adults who participate in at least half the food shopping for their households.
“Now if that feels high, it might be due to continued battling perceptions within a household regarding that which constitutes a ‘primary shopper,’ with one person in the house defining it as the number of trips made to the market, and the other in the household defining it according to quantity of groceries purchased. Regardless of the metric used, grocery shopping has clearly moved into shared territory in the household division of labor.”
Regarding shopper considerations about health and wellness, consumers were asked to identify the groups they tend to view as being on their side, and those they tend to view as working against them. Family tops the support list with only 4% of consumers saying their family works against them and a significant 79% reported their family is on their side.
Of note, among members of the food chain helping them address health concerns, consumers ranked farmers highest – with 4% against them and 61% for them – followed by primary food store – with only 6% against them and 45% for them. Toward the bottom of the list, food manufacturers have a 41% “against” vs. a 13% “for” rating, and fast food restaurants are at the very bottom in terms of consumer sentiment – a 57% “working against me” and a 6% “working on my side” rating.
Sarasin emphasized that regardless of the shape, size or constitution of a family, there are benefits to the family meal and food retailers, as trusted partners in the family food strategy, have multiple opportunities to support families in their effort to share more meals together at home.
“I suggest that if we’re going to successfully help families achieve the goal of eating at least one more meal together than they are currently doing, we will need to literally put all meal possibilities on the table – including breakfast,” she noted. “This means helping them with easy structures so breakfast becomes a meal not to be skipped, eaten alone or eaten out, and it has real potential of being a time when all in the home are gathered around the table starting the day in a healthy and cohesive fashion.”
The research indicates that different stages of family development and the various roles people have within the family structure all offer different opportunities for retailers. For instance, despite stereotypes of harried parents, meal consistency actually peaks among households with children, primarily due to their higher rates of dinner consumption. Kids eat consistently and frequently, and when the kids eat, the parents eat, skipping meals relatively rarely.
Sarasin concluded, “As I observe the state of the world around us, I see a nation in need of guidance and in need of direction. As trusted leaders in your companies, your communities and your families, you can be the star that gives us direction, the light that guides us and the force that helps heal us.”