The rise and rise of ‘food for now’ shopping

25SEP The rise and rise of ‘food for now’ shopping


As the shopping habits of the British public evolves, so do the strategies of retailers looking to make the most of time-stretched shoppers and the growth of the convenience channel. Alongside the ‘big shop’ and the ‘top-up shop’, we are seeing a growing mix of missions, in particular the ‘food for now shop.’ 


Shoppers today are increasingly seeking to optimise their time but simultaneously minimise food waste. When it comes to the convenience channel, research shows that in contrast to the ‘big shop’, being able to get in and out of the store rapidly is a key for shopper satisfaction in convenience. For retailers, this means thinking about store layouts and planograms, ensuring they make it easy for shoppers to find what they want rapidly. We are also seeing convenience coming to the fore in larger retailers as they look to maximise these missions.


Research shows however, that shoppers don’t just visit convenience for the ‘top-up shop’ in the traditional sense of popping in for milk and bread as much as they used to, whilst this still happens, convenience missions are much broader. People today frequent the convenience channel looking to buy for specific missions or occasions. This is not just about lunchtimes or breakfast on the way to work anymore. Shoppers’ lives are much busier and we don’t always know where we will be from one night to the next, therefore buying food for now in the evening is taking precedence over the bigger weekly shop. This also helps to eradicate food waste which is one of the wider issues facing today’s consumers.


Retailers have been responding. Wholefoods has trialled signage which points time-stretched shoppers towards “eat quick” and “stock up” and Sainsbury’s has trialled arranging the store by mission: food for now, for tonight and for the rest of the week. Waitrose have stores in train stations which cater for quick and ‘in-out’ shopping, changing food ranges depending on the time of day. Other retailers are following suite, trialling store formats in this way. We are also seeing convenience arise in terms of the mix of services into retailers, such as in-store restaurants and chefs creating dishes for consumers to take home or even delivery to the home. Our lives are dictating our requirements and retailers are having to adapt quickly to our demands.


But it’s not just about occasions. The growing convenience channel means shoppers expect to be able to find a wider range of ingredients. Ubiquitous online recipes and cooking videos encourage shoppers to experiment with new flavours and unfamiliar ingredients. This is reflected in the growing popularity of international supermarkets. Originally catering for expats, many international supermarkets now receive the majority of their sales from British shoppers, intrigued by a different range of products or on the hunt for a specific ingredient.


From a field marketing point of view, it’s important to consider where products fit into these different missions, and therefore where they might belong in store across different layouts and planograms. Brands that flourish will be ones which utilise creative merchandising and in-store positioning to integrate themselves into a variety of missions taken by shoppers. The key is to ‘think mission’ and where will those shoppers go on those missions to ensure certain products are placed together to make things easier and ultimately more convenient to shop. Gone are the days of making shoppers work harder to find things in the hope they will put more products in their baskets. Research shows that if we help shoppers find things quicker and easier through so called ‘occasion-based merchandising’, they will browse and potentially pick up more items.


The challenge for field marketers now is to start thinking more flexibly about positioning and adopting a mission-driven approach rather than a category-driven one. This means using data to gather insights about the sorts of missions that drive shoppers in store and ensuring the range is diverse enough to capture new tastes and new occasions.


Contact us today to find out more about how we can help you make the most of all shopper missions.