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Eating In is In

With the new year, comes new challenges for mainstream retailers I work with. In 2009, one of the things I am urging them to do is to get reacquainted with the at-home chef.

Analysts throughout the food industry are pointing to a resurgence in home cooking as consumers forgo restaurants in favor of cheaper make-your-own meals. The trend has reportedly led to increased purchases of basic cooking tools, cookbooks and basic ingredients.

A 2009 trend survey conducted by Mambo Sprouts showed 61% of natural and organic consumers are cooking more meals at home. These same shoppers are also increasing their use of coupons (81%) and stocking up on sale items (73%) in order to stretch their grocery dollars.

Not surprisingly, they’re also spending less money in gourmet shops and focusing more on price and in-store specials when deciding where to shop.

Given these economizing trends, supermarkets have a solid opportunity to build customer affinity by integrating affordable home cooking resources into their marketing and merchandising.

Basic strategies include offering recipes in print marketing and in-store displays. Take this tactic further by managing sales based on these recipe ingredients. Or, follow the lead of frugal-cooking magazines and calculate each recipe’s cost-per-serving to highlight money-saving meals.

Finally, just because people are cutting back in the gourmet food stores doesn’t mean they’re giving up entirely on specialty foods. Saving money by cooking at home means shoppers can justify a few of these special treats.