ARLINGTON, Va. — Faster service, menu variety, healthy options, lower prices, knowledgeable staff and cleanliness are among the top ways retailers can improve their foodservice programs and compete with restaurants, according to the Food Marketing Institute’s (FMI's) newest report, The Power of Foodservice at Retail 2019.
Based in Arlington, Va., FMI provides leadership to retailers and wholesalers of food and consumer products, as well as to their supplier partners. The nonprofit organization develops and promotes policies, programs and forums supporting its members, their customers and supplier partners and other industry stakeholders.
Here are six takeaways from the report …
A strong reputation makes a difference
Sixty-four percent of consumers said they would be more inclined to shop at a retailer that they don’t normally visit if it had a strong reputation for foodservice, according to the report. Retailers must make their foodservice programs top of mind among consumers because awareness is one of the barriers preventing success in this area, FMI said.
“Work on being on shoppers’ radar beyond the store when dinner decisions are being made through a strong reputation,” the organization said.
Speed is key
Seventy-one percent of consumers said getting in and out of the store quickly is their top priority when visiting a retailer for lunch, according to the report. Beyond that, 59% said the same for an extensive grab-and-go selection. Consumers also expressed high interest in separate checkout lines to speed up their dining process.
“Speed is the name of the game,” FMI said. “Ensure your foodservice can deliver on speed or slow people down with an engaging in-store experience.”
Consumers cited mobile or online ordering as key factors in their retail foodservice experience. Nearly 30% of consumers said they frequently use technology when deciding when and where to eat, according to the report. Specifically, consumers use various search engines (72%), Yelp (36%), the map feature on their phones (23%) and other methods to decide where to eat.
“Search optimization is crucial to future success,” FMI said.
Healthy is essential
Sixty-five percent of consumers prioritize healthy and nutritious options when ordering from retail foodservice, according to the report. Moreover, 61% of consumers said they are most interested in meals that contain healthy ingredients, and 58% said the same for healthy preparation methods.
“Retail foodservice loyalists have an above-average focus on health [and] nutrition,” FMI said. “Provide information, education and assortment to not miss out.”
Mix up the menu
Eighty-eight percent of consumers said they want retailers to offer a variety of item and flavor rotations, according to FMI. And the more consumers purchase prepared foods from retailers, the more their desire for assortment variety increases, FMI said.
“Avoid menu fatigue and increase conversion and trips as the menu innovation cycle is shortening," it said.
Functional packaging leads the way
Forty-seven percent of consumers said package functionality cannot be overlooked in retail foodservice, according to FMI. Furthermore, 33% of consumers said they would prefer to use reusable tableware, straws and utensils, which outpaced plastic (27%) and paper (27%).