Home Americas Americas: Consumers are in charge, says analyst

Americas: Consumers are in charge, says analyst

How and where consumers in the US source meals and the attributes that will win share of wallet are ever-changing, finds The NPD Group.

It shares the following five trends to watch in 2017.

First, the battle for share of stomach will intensify.

For several years now, more than 80% of meals have been sourced from home.

Less than 20% have been sourced from foodservice, and dollars are evenly split between the two.

Food manufacturers will benefit from a trend toward eating meals at home by capitalizing on consumers’ desires for fresh, authentic foods.

Foodservice operators will increasingly leverage technology to conveniently get their food on the in-home table.
The retailer will continue to blur the line between retail and foodservice.

Second, there will be continued development of the ‘blended meal’.

Consumers are dining at home more, and they value fresh and authentic foods, but convenience remains an important part of the equation.

They do not always source meals entirely at home or away.

There will be various components of ‘homemade’ meals to be sourced from items fully or partially prepared.

Opportunity exists all along the preparation spectrum, from meal kits to restaurant delivery.

Third, companies will win by getting personal.

Even in a mature, low-growth environment, there will be opportunities for double-digit growth.

More than ever, the consumer is in charge.

Access to information is empowering people to do things on their terms.

The days of a one-size-fits-all blockbuster idea are over.

Consumers will seek out foods with a variety of value-added attributes (fresh, natural, organic), positive benefits (energy, brain food, etc.) and social value (local, sustainable, transparent).

Some of these opportunities may seem small by big company standards, but that is where the growth is.
Fourth, the definition of meal occasions will evolve.

People are not adding new eating occasions to their day, but how meal and between-meal occasions are composed will continue to change.

Foods that offer the flexibility to compose an eating occasion to fit specific needs at a given time will grow, whether packaged goods or foodservice offerings.

Consumers will make choices on price point, portion control, and portability – whatever allows them to craft a snack or full meal, spend a little or a lot, take a break or eat on the run.

Lastly, experience will make the difference.

To stand out, food manufacturers, retailers, and foodservice operators must go beyond sustenance.

People will seek out experiences, whether through exploring street food vendors, emerging ethnic flavors, or hands-on experiences, such as learning new food prep techniques.

Connecting your product or brand to an experience people are eager to share with others can be an important differentiating factor in 2017.

“Opportunities to grow and innovate are out there but the key to finding them in the coming year will be staying in touch with the consumer,” says David Portalatin, VP and food industry analyst.

“They’re the ones in charge.”