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Convenience Items: Move Over, Gas Stations

By: STCR Staff 

Today’s consumers are more focused on convenience than ever before, and convenience items have drastically advanced from the traditional grab-and-go candy and snacks at point of sale. The classic grocery store layout and produce selection is being challenged as retailers re-think the modern customer’s priorities. A greater number of stores are considering how to appeal to shoppers who simultaneously have busy lives and are putting a greater emphasis on healthy, whole foods.

Many stores are addressing these trends by organizing branding blocks, with in-store experiences grouped by type in a sort of “mini-store” with themes like organic products, craft beer displays or ethnic food ingredients. Some retailers are jumping on the meal kit concept bandwagon by marketing all ingredients needed for a recipe grouped together. How can effective in-store marketing of convenience products drive sales and encourage return shopping?

  • Prepared produce

Families have always been a major market segment for grocery retailers, and now families are busier than ever, and increasingly looking for healthy options on the go. According to a study conducted by market and consumer research firm Bernstein, straddling the line between convenience and health is key to appealing to families who want to eat healthy but don’t have the time to invest in cooking meals from scratch. “While most parents do cook for their children, they do not want to spend hours in the kitchen. So they look for ways to cut down on cooking time, using frozen veggies or ready made salads,” Bernstein analysts wrote in the report. An increasing number of grocery stores are offering pre-prepared produce to appeal to families on-the-go, with items like cut vegetables, pre-made salads and even specialty items like cauliflower rice and zucchini noodles. These items not only save time, but also appeal to parents trying to get their children to embrace whole foods. The less effort it takes to eat healthy, the better for today’s consumers. Additionally, retailers can add a premium to produce for preparing it, as consumers have proven that they don’t mind shelling out a little extra for convenience.

  • Recipe kit

The meal kit concept has grown exponentially in recent years, and it’s clear to see why. Most consumers have shifted their preference to simpler, healthier fare, but more of the population than ever are busy professionals. The idea of fresh ingredients sent to your door and ready to assemble is a tempting one. However, market data shows that many consumers don’t consider meal kit subscription services to be worthwhile, and many cancel after their free trials due to high cost and the commitment required. Grocery retailers can capitalize on this trend by offering the meal kit concept in-store, without the hassle of subscribing or receiving food by mail. By curating healthy and on-trend recipes and offering all the ingredients on sale together in one display, busy shoppers can get dinner inspiration without searching the store for all the necessary components.

  • Not your mother’s frozen meals

Trader Joe’s is an excellent case study in the accessibility of frozen meals. Though many people associate frozen meals with TV dinners and preservatives, Trader Joe’s has rebranded the frozen meal by creating store-brand meals with healthy, whole ingredients in appropriate portions. As the most profitable grocery retailer in the U.S., Trader Joe’s knows a thing or two about marketing to the modern shopper. While they see that convenience is a priority, they understand that ready-to-eat meals are expensive to produce and hard to deliver profitably. Since frozen meals are easier to transport and have a longer shelf life, they are able to turn a profit while still appealing to modern shoppers who want “grab-and-go” type items.

 

Other grocery retailers are adding standalone convenience components to their stores to appeal to the growing number of shoppers looking to shop quickly and efficiently. According to CNBC, Millennials, one of the largest cohorts of shoppers today, are keeping fewer foods at home and reaching for prepared foods while on the go. In response to this, major retailers like Target and Whole Foods are incorporating grab-and-go concepts within the store footprint. Target is introducing Snack Bar, an extension of the typical food court fare Target shoppers know but with a high-tech twist. Snack Bar is a frictionless checkout system where shoppers pay for their items at a self-service kiosk.

 

Whole Foods is also rolling out a convenience concept with the introduction of its Whole Foods Market Daily Shop in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood. Offering fresh coffee, prepared foods, fresh produce, bakery items and more, the store appeals to the neighborhood’s demographic of busy professionals, commuters and college students. Point-of-sale system options at the Daily Shop include staffed checkouts as well as self-checkout point-of-sale to appeal to shoppers with varying preferences.

 

Whether taking inspiration from big box solutions like Target’s Snack Bar or burgeoning trends like meal kit subscriptions, it is clear that the major priority among consumers when it comes to food shopping is convenience. By embracing this growing emphasis on quick and easy meal planning, grocers of all sizes in all locations can greater appeal to their customers’ lifestyles.

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