Away-From-Home Eating Continues to Surge

Nielsen describes four consumer types to target

February 27, 2018

Grocerants are in the sweet spot of a national spending trend toward “away-from-home” eating.

Americans spent $800 billion on away-from-home eating in 2016, up 94% since 2003. By contrast, people spent $793 billion on at-home eating in 2016, up a slower 59% since 2003.  Away-from-home eating commanded a majority 50.2% of the total U.S. spend on food and beverage in 2016, reported the U.S. Department of Agriculture Economic Research Service. 

A bona fide growth sector, grocerants could be a tonic for supermarkets as they capture more share of the away-from-home food and beverage spend.  They’ve become retailers’ strategic choice to meet new diner demands, enhance reputations for innovation, comfort and health, and blur the lines between restaurant and grocer.  

“We are seeing the rise of crossover and new-format competitors: the convenience store, the online restaurant delivery aggregator, the juice bar, and so on,” said Nielsen in its Merging Tables & Aisles: Understanding Shifts in U.S. Total Food and Beverage Demand white paper.  Channel parameters matter less and data-led insights on consumer demand matter more.

Grocerants can target using these four data-driven consumer segments from Nielsen, which describe how consumers buy and consume across the food and beverage landscape:  

  • Traditionalist food shoppers, $310 monthly average food-spend.  Older with no kids in the household, they spend two-thirds of their total food dollars at grocery, mass and club stores. They value convenience, then taste and speedy experiences. At 37% of shoppers, but only 28% of food-spend, they represent the core legacy food channel shopper.  They’re not drivers due to age and minimal income growth.  
  • Restaurant occasion lovers, $405 monthly average food-spend.  Younger, more ethnically diverse, and with kids who are likely teens, 57% live in suburbia and spend one-third of their food dollars at restaurants.  Likely to eat restaurant meals in restaurants, they represent 31% of shoppers and food spend, and value taste, then convenience and value.
  • Digital adopters, $705 monthly average food-spend.  “Most likely to be younger urban parents, highly educated with high incomes, they’re on the cutting edge of emerging food channels, spending 25% of their food dollars with pure-play online retailers, digital order and delivery and meal kit providers,” said Nielsen.  “They’re the most open to eating away from home.” They represent 9% of shoppers and 17% of reported food-spend, and value taste, then value and ability to order online.  They’re the most digitally skewed.
  • Multi-channel adapters, $415 monthly average food-spend.  They spread their F&B spend across different channels the most, and are likelier to use each channel for its primary purpose, such as grocery stores for at-home consumption and restaurants to eat out.  These 23% of shoppers who control 24% of reported food-spend use different channels for different eating occasions and benefits – such as convenience and speed from c-stores, and good taste from casual eateries.
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