Become part of the plan-and-shop meal cycle

December 28, 2010

It is important to engage chief household food procurers early through Shopper Marketing.

It is important to engage chief household food procurers early through Shopper Marketing, due to the high double-digit incidence of structured meal planning across America. Gone are the days when people showed up at the supermarket without at least some clear ideas of what to accomplish on the trip.

Attribute it as you wish – recession hardships, time poverty, wanting to eat a certain way or exert more control over their purchasing behaviors, or a combination of these – nearly three-quarters of U.S. households plan some dinners in advance each week, and half plan breakfast and lunch, according to NPD Group’s Before The Store report.

Of 71% that plan at least some dinners ahead of time, 24% plan nearly all in advance; of 53% that plan at least some lunches, 13% plan nearly all in advance; of 51% that plan at least some breakfasts, 26% plan nearly all in advance, the survey data show.

In order to become part of this plan-and-shop cycle, food stores and CPG manufacturers need to help consumers address their meal planning challenges – most commonly supplying new ideas for main meals (to relieve tedium, as families eat home more), meals that can be made quickly and stick within a budget. Recipes are common tools used by 34% of households weekly and 69% monthly, notes NPD.

While major brand makers regularly offer recipes on dedicated websites, on packages or in FSIs, retailers can and should do the same using their private labels, urges The Lempert Report. They should promote their own recipe availability in circulars to stimulate traffic in center store – and they should feature diverse prepared food offerings, which also deliver high margins as well as high levels of consumer satisfaction because they bring diversity to the home table, while relieving some pressure on meal planners.