ATLANTA — More than 75% of shoppers say they're eating at home more frequently than they did a year ago, but only 5% say they are buying meals from their supermarket deli, according to research presented here at the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association's Dairy-Deli-Bake 2009 Seminar & Expo last weekend.
Brian Darr, managing director of Chicago-based Datassential Research, presented a summary of research commissioned by IDDBA during his Sunday presentation, “The New Value Shopper.”
The research shows typical food shoppers are seeking freshness and consistent quality in meals and meal ingredients even as they trim their spending. But they're either not finding what they want or they're not looking for it in supermarket delis.
“Deli operators are missing a key opportunity,” Darr said. “They could look to fast-casual restaurants for inspiration.”
That segment of the restaurant industry increased its meal-deal offerings by 50% in 2008.
Bundled and value-added items have taken on new importance. So has unit pricing. Indeed, 70% of study respondents said they currently look at unit price.
With that in mind, delis should get away from pricing prepared food by the pound, Darr said.
“Customers want to know what a portion costs, or if they can feed a family of four for $20. They want that kind of help,” he said.
Other data gleaned from the research show 60% of consumers using coupons, some for the first time, reversing a 20-year trend. A full three-quarters also said they're searching circulars. Nearly as many (70%) said they're sticking tight to their shopping lists, and 55% said they've cut back on impulse buys. A surprising 50% said they will drive around from store to store to get what they want at the “right price.”
The recession is also leading many shoppers to have a new respect for private-label products, the research shows.
“Consumers are flocking to store brands,” Darr said. “In fact, 53% said they're buying more store brands.”
Even more said that if the store-brand price is at least 30% less than the national brand, they will buy it instead. Nearly three-quarters of shoppers (73%) said they have reduced their purchases of national-brand products and two-thirds said they believe store-brand products are as good or better than their national-brand counterparts.
“They told us the quality is there and the price is right,” Darr said.
The products look appealing, too, they said. Darr showed slides of attractively packaged store-brand products, pointing out that the plain-looking packaging for those products is long gone.
Researchers also interviewed retail executives, and 95% said they expect to add more value-priced products. Seventy-one percent said they're rearranging shelving to highlight value-priced products. Additional price incentives such as discounts and coupons will be employed by 69% of retailers interviewed, and 59% said they're looking to add more bulk, economy-sized products.
Darr said Jewel-Osco in Chicago has already made huge efforts to offer more value-priced products and that consumers are responding.
The IDDBA research, completed earlier this year, involved 3,561 consumer surveys, 100 retailer interviews and store visits for observational research. The full, 108-page research report is available now from IDDBA.