Restaurant vs Supermarket Shopping Behavior

February 28, 2011

What do shoppers value when choosing meals and ingredients in the supermarket versus in a restaurant? Find out in the latest consumer panel report.

Do shoppers eat healthier when dining in a restaurant or when eating at home? What do shoppers value when choosing meals and ingredients in the supermarket and how does this differ from what they value in a restaurant? To find out the answers to these questions and more, The Lempert Report conducted an exclusive quick poll of the Supermarket Guru consumer panel.   
Understanding consumer behavior across eating venues, specifically comparing behaviors and choices when eating at home versus eating at a restaurant, helps target marketing and helps the food industry, deliver on consumer’s desires.  
So, what are consumers’ priorities? And what do they choose more often in restaurants versus eating at home. The top three priorities when buying food and beverage in a restaurant were cited as taste (84%), health (64%), and price (61%). Versus, consumer’s priorities when making purchases in the supermarket: health (90%), price (80%), and taste (80%). Ultimately shoppers and restaurant patrons value price, taste and health, but the order in which we expect our restaurants versus supermarkets, and by extension home cooking, to deliver on these expectations is different.
How do consumer choices differ in restaurants versus the supermarket? Consumers cite that they are choosing less fried, more vegetables, more salads, more water, more grilled, and less dessert most often in restaurants, versus shopping in the supermarket for more vegetables, more fruit, less fat, less HFCS, less sodium, less fried, and less sugar.  Single ingredients and foods to limit, (i.e. less fat, sodium, and sugar) seem to be on the minds of shoppers rather than restaurant patrons who generally try to limit unhealthy cooking methods or increase healthy items on their plates.  
When we asked our facebook fans where they ate healthier – home or at restaurants – this is what they said. 

Naomi Heise said, “I eat healthier at home, total control over portion sizes and nutritional content.”  

Christina Alexander said, “Definitely at home. I control salt, fat…where the ingredients come from.” 

Where as Susan Baker Farmer stated that, “I actually eat healthier in restaurants. I have a hellacious work schedule, and I'm too tired to cook when I get home. So it's generally just a can of soup. I wish I could cook more!”
How to get more shoppers in your door and into the prepared foods section? Cater first to taste then health and price, enticing those who seek out restaurant meals for exactly those reasons. In-store tasting and quick cooking demos could also be a great way to familiarize customers with new products and easy cooking methods.