Fresh Meal Trends: Most Meal Decisions Planned Ahead; Impulse Purchases Rare; Promotions Key: NPD

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Fresh Meal Trends: Most Meal Decisions Planned Ahead; Impulse Purchases Rare; Promotions Key: NPD


Before they ever enter a grocery store, most U.S. consumers have already made the majority of their purchasing decisions and rarely buy on impulse, according to a recent report by Port Washington, N.Y.-based market researcher The NPD Group. However, when they do make impulse purchases, promotions tend to play the largest role in the process.

The food and beverage market research report finds that 94 percent of U.S. households prepare a written shopping list prior to grocery shopping, and 72 percent of shoppers never or only occasionally buy items not on the list.

Titled “Before the Store,” the report, which takes a holistic view of the grocery shopper from meal preparation, eating behavior, menu planning to shopping, also found that in most households, there’s one person with the responsibility for food and beverage shopping, and one person responsible for meal preparation -- and most of the time that person is, not surprisingly, a woman.

Although the woman of the household tends to have the primary responsibility of grocery shopping and meal planning, grocery list preparation appears to be a family affair: Sixty percent of married and family households report contributions from other family members. Among younger households, a spouse is more likely to contribute to the household shopping list when kids aren’t present, whereas children provide input to the shopping list in nearly 40 percent of family households.

“For food and beverage manufacturers and retailers, it’s all about getting on the list,” said Ann Hanson, NPD’s executive director of product development and author of the report. “With so many purchasing decisions being made at home where meals are being planned and shopping lists assembled, it’s important to focus on the consumer at home before they leave for the store.”

NPD’s “National Eating Trends,” which continually tracks all aspects of Americans’ eating behaviors, shows that most U.S. consumers (81 percent) eat dinner at home, and according to “Before the Store,” most households plan these meals in advance.

As for purchasing items not on the list, according to the “Before the Store” report, while most shoppers don’t purchase unplanned items while in the store, approximately one in four primary grocery shoppers are more impulse driven while grocery shopping. The top reasons for an impulse purchase are: saw it on promotion (80 percent) saw it in the store and remembered it was needed (67 percent), and looked like a good meal or snack solution (37 percent).

“While most grocery shoppers shop for their food items around once a week, consumers decide what to eat, drink, or serve many times a day,” added Hanson. “It’s these daily activities, and the needs behind them, that drive their purchase decisions.”