Fresh foods are trip magnets

February 13, 2012

Which foods draw shoppers into supermarkets? Produce and the fresh perimeter, they say by a 2:1 margin.

Consumers want to eat healthier, and fresh foods are key to achieving this. Led by produce, fresh perimeter departments are the key traffic-building attractions to supermarkets, reveal findings of the 2012 National Grocers Association-SupermarketGuru Consumer Panel Survey Report.

By a commanding 2:1 margin, consumers say that fresh foods (66.4%) drive their supermarket trips, compared with shelf-stable foods (27.8%) and frozen foods (5.8%).  Since heavy spenders ($101 and over per week on groceries) say this in an even higher frequency (68.3%), the consequence of not satisfying this desire could be particularly damaging to a supermarket.

Who else said this the most?  Boomers age 50-64 (68.9%), who increasingly strive to eat smarter as they get older to help prevent or fend off health conditions – and who will account for more than half of grocery purchases by 2015.

Indeed, 61.0% of consumers say they eat fresh foods for health motives rather than taste (35.0%). This reason carries through from the young to the old:  more than two-thirds of survey respondents age 39 and under drive the health response, and seniors come in second.

Asked to name the specific fresh foods that drive their trips, U.S. adults report them in this order:  produce (67.6%), meats (17.8%), dairy (4.8%), seafood (3.2%), deli (2.1%), poultry (1.5%), prepared foods (1.2%), cheeses (1.0%), and bakery (0.7%).

While buying conversion is high, it could be higher still. The research shows that 84.3% of consumers say they spend more than half of their fresh-food dollars in supermarkets. A more specific breakdown of the 84.3% figure:  about one-quarter of consumers (26%) spend 91% or more of their fresh-food dollars in supermarkets; about one-third (33.5%) pay for 76% to 90% of their fresh foods in supermarkets; and about one-quarter (24.8%) spend between 51% and 75% of their fresh-food dollars in supermarkets.

The lower thresholds:  about one-tenth of consumers (10.9%) spend between 26% and 50% of their fresh-food dollars in supermarkets, and about one-twentieth (4.8%) pay for 25% or less of their fresh foods in supermarkets.

In-store presentation is key to turning more fresh foods shoppers into buyers – and people respond to many aspects of presentation. Mostly, they respond to cleanliness of display, which they cited the most (64.4%). This was the only presentation trait that drew a majority response.  Rounding out the Top Five:  appealing appearance of food (48.9%), products are not past sale date (37.5%), locally grown (24.2), and packaging that gives me a clear view of product (22.4%).