- Americans eat out more than ever before, but they're not just eating in traditional restaurants, explains Nielsen. In its report, "Merging Tables and Aisles," the global data analytics and measurement company examined the shift from eating in to eating out.
- Although traditionally consumers are broken up by generation, Nielsen says the crossover among generations doesn't make this feasible, and proposes four new groups: traditionalist food shoppers, restaurant occasion lovers, digital adopters and multi-channel adopters.
- By understanding these four groups, grocery stores can market to them based on their preference and interests, and not just age demographics.
Consumers most likely to use cutting edge eating options aren't millennials—they're Gen X, according to Nielsen. A deeper look into the data found four groups of food shoppers that are not just based on age.
- The traditionalist food shopper is older and spends two-thirds of total food dollars in grocery, mass merchandisers and club stores, the report says. This group looks for convenience above all, followed by taste and speed.
- Restaurant occasion lovers are younger than traditionalist food shoppers and more ethnically diverse. They may have older children and spend a third of their money in restaurants. Taste, followed by convenience and value resonate with them.
- Digital adopters are young urbanites. With high incomes, they are more likely to order online, and they account for 17% of spend, even though they only account for 9% of shoppers. Digital adopters want taste, followed by value and the ability to order online.
- The last group Nielsen describes is multi-channel adapters. This group represents 23% of shoppers and 24% of food spend, across the different segments. They are not tied to any one type of meal occasion and are comfortable crossing between them as the occasion dictates.
What does this segmentation mean for grocers? The report provides useful insights on how to meet the different segments of shoppers where they are — or more accurately — where they like to eat. When appealing to digital adopters, for example, grocers can hone in on the segment's attraction to digital ordering and delivery by offering online grocery shopping. It can, like Kroger, incorporate meal kits to its offerings, for pickup or delivery. If a grocery store is trying to attract restaurant occasion lovers, it might build restaurants inside its stores, as Hy-Vee has done.
According to Nielsen, digital adopters spend the most in food of all of the groups, at $705/month, so they might be an obvious choice to target.
But in addition to looking at the segmented groups, grocers should also determine their strengths and use those areas to match up with consumer demands. The traditionalist food shoppers segment is small, and not likely to grow, but they can be stable customers. If a grocer is small and convenient, it can create a group of loyal customers. In the same vein, grocers can market to food occasion lovers with meal kits that will bring restaurant quality taste through online or pick up and go shopping.
The Nielsen data demonstrates that there is no one-size fits all solution and provides more specific ways that retailers can focus marketing efforts.