Ripe for Innovation

Twenty opportunities to turn your company into an innovation powerhouse

Abbie Westra, Director, Editorial, CSP

Demeritt expects to see a rise in the products and services geared toward single, child-free households—concepts that cater to the “experiential” desires of today’s consumer. This can mean smart portioning and customization. A recent Hartman Group study on the subject highlighted Trader Joe’s salad kits and Sabra Hummus singles as good examples of products that “can shift solitary dining from a lonely occasion to something fun by serving as an interactive and pleasurable distraction.”

In the retail space, consider food stations—think blown-out salad bars with multiple grains and legumes and more—for people to customize and, as the Hartman report said, “aggregate snack items to become a meal.”

The ‘New View’ of Foodservice
Quick quiz: What is the ratio of your time spent looking at Excel sheets to time spent actually looking around your stores? Regardless of the actual numbers, you’re probably wishing for less screen time, right?

Well, restaurant operators are actually trying to be more like you. The International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) and Datassential have teamed up to develop insights around dining occasions and eater types along with a comprehensive view of the foodservice industry—including grocery and c-store.

“While this type of research has been around for quite some time within the retail/grocery industry, it’s a fresh and essential approach for us in foodservice,” says Larry Oberkfell, president and CEO of IFMA. “Using the ‘new view’ of foodservice, we have the opportunity to revolutionize the entire industry by getting into the mind of a consumer. Why do they go where they go? And once there, why do they order what they do?”

While you can download the insights yourself at, highlights include a breakdown of “eater types” with regard to food away from home:

  • Basic Eaters, 21% of the population. With a no-frills mentality, these consumers “eat to live” rather than “live to eat.” Affordability and speed are key motivators.
  • Quality Essentialists, 22% of the population. Quality matters to them, but only to a certain point; It’s got to be good, but need not be spectacular. Consistency is key.
  • ­Progressives, 28% of the population. Progressives are often foodies with a greater appetite for experimentation; many also favor health-conscious dining.
  • Experientialists, 28% of the population. For them, it’s not just about the food, but rather the entire experience—from ambiance and service to kid-friendly options.

At the c-store level, the standards for quality products and a unique experience along with speed, consistency and affordability should be put against every category and every touch point in the shopping experience.

Stop Thinking Demographics, Start Thinking Need States
When categorizing your shoppers, consider not just who they are, but also when they visit your store and why. For every demographic there aremultiple needs, and you must understand thoseneeds before you can actually innovate. From there,consider what can be executed in the store.

Who’s the Household Decision Maker?
CPG manufacturers, retailers and consultants have spent much of their time and marketing budget going after Mom, and while moms are certainly a powerful demographic with a large market basket, she’s not necessarily the decision maker anymore.

Only 20% of all primary shoppers are moms, according to The Hartman Group, while half of primary shoppers are men. Kids are also increasingly part of the decision-making process, and the incidence of multi-generational households—currently at about 16%—just keeps growing.

So while moms are still very important—and many a savvy retailer has realized that to capture the discerning mom means capturing everyone in between—don’t ignore the others.

“Wow, [consider] the incremental opportunities with all these other households with demographics that look very different,” says Demeritt.

Take men as an opportunity. For one, we already know they shop the c-store channel more often than women. They also make mental lists of what to buy vs. written-out versions. Think about how to become the fill-in destination for the male shopper: the place for him to grab a loaf of bread on the way home from work, or to stop for granola bars and juice between the kids’ soccer games.

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