Food quality, not savings, will top the holidays

November 16, 2011

Exclusive F3 survey tells supermarkets their best chances for traffic this season: focus on food quality, food variety and deals.

Food retailers hoping to post good comparative sales this holiday season have several reasons to be optimistic:  More than half (52%) expect to spend about the same amount on foods and beverages during the 2011 holidays as they did a year ago. Another 35% plan to spend more; only 13% plan to spend less.   

Also, food quality will overwhelmingly be the top factor shaping their decision of where to shop for holiday foods – 41% of respondents said this in an exclusive poll conducted for F3 by Lab42, which fields online surveys through social media and rewards survey takers with virtual currency.

The emphasis on food quality overshadows store efforts to provide food variety (18%) and deals and discounts (18%).  It also outdistances recipes and serving ideas (9%), brands consumers prefer (6%), nutritional information (4%) and lesser concerns, the survey of 550 U.S. adults showed.

Despite the sluggish economy, it seems traditional motives to satisfy family and guests from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day with high-quality meals, snacks and treats will override any concerns for savings. Consumers even expressed that family meals (outside of holiday entertaining) will have satisfaction as the top priority:  The majority (51%) said their main focus would be on ‘tasteful meals my family will enjoy.’  Down the list:  good nutrition (19%), quick and easy meals (17%), savings (8%) and diet-specific meals (3%), the data showed.

Though savings are about to take a second seat to food quality and satisfying meals this season, consumers won’t ignore opportunities to keep more money in their wallets.  Which strategies will they use most? According to the survey: clip coupons (31%), comparison shop (17%), research online (12%), shopping in different stores (11%), buying favorite brands on sale (10%), buying less expensive brands or private label (7%), buying in bulk with another household and splitting the purchase (5%).

Through it all, foods and beverages served on holiday tables will hold no surprises.  The Top 10 foods put out by hosts this season, in descending order from first to tenth include:  white meat, pies, vegetables, salads, pumpkin, cranberry sauce, snacks, red meat, candy and seafood, the findings showed.

The Top 7 beverages expected to flow, in order from first to seventh are: soft drinks, water, wine, egg nog, beer, champagne and liquor, the survey respondents said.

Among survey takers, 65% were employed and 17% were students; 91% were between the ages of 18 and 44; they were split evenly between male and female.