‘Fresh’ Tops List of 2011 Grocery Trends

The Futures Co.’s latest 2010 Monitor research reveals that “fresh” tops list of attributes important in purchasing food products.

In 2011, “fresh” will continue to grow in importance as a key deciding factor on where to shop for groceries. Risk-conscious consumers see ‘fresh’ as an avenue to safer and healthier food consumption. Fresh fruits and vegetables will be perceived as far healthier than all-natural, organic, frozen or canned goods. Locally grown will continue to grow as an added dimension to the freshness argument. Pressure will be on grocery stores’ pre-prepared offerings to ratchet up freshness and healthiness, particularly as restaurants begin the recovery process.

According to the Futures Co.’s research, 71 percent of consumers agree with the statement: “I wish grocery stores would make it easier to determine what foods are healthier than others.” The new year will see consumers looking to grocery stores to demystify consumer confusion around more healthy versus less healthy choices. There will be an opportunity for easy-to-interpret symbols on the healthfulness of various grocery items, moving beyond traditional labeling (41 percent of Americans do not know that an ounce weighs more than a gram; more than four in five do not know how many grams of fat or carbohydrates they should consume on a 2,000 calorie per day diet. This trend could extend to the foodservice industry more generally with the introduction of menus based on healthiness of food so as to avoid temptation.

Energy is now a more valuable resource than time in 13 of the 20 countries included in the 2010 Global Monitor research. As such, grocery stores will begin implementing monitoring systems that enable customers to check energy levels, much like blood pressure monitors were introduced near grocery pharmacies years ago. Test results yield recommendations for foods and beverages to add to the shopping list depending on degree of energy deficit. Sixty-nine percent of U.S. consumers say that “provides energy” is important in determining which products to purchase.

Research reveals that 40 percent or more of consumers in Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Turkey and the U.S. download coupons at least once a week to their computer or mobile device. 2011 will see even more consumers embed digital couponing as a way of life as grocery stores expand programs to enable consumers to more easily download and take advantage of special offers on smart phones.

Stock boys will need to do more than reach high shelves. Grocery stores will rely on customer-facing employees to make even more of a difference in customers’ in-store experience; knowing which aisle houses specific products gives way to greater category expertise as employees pursue passions in specific food and beverage categories, cuisines, preparation methods. In deciding where to shop, 73 percent of U.S. consumers rate “has outstanding customer service” as important and 67 percent rate “has employees who can answer questions and handle problems without talking to a supervisor” as important.

The Futures Co., a global trends and futures consultancy, is part of the Kantar Group of WPP with offices in London, North Carolina, New York, Buenos Aires and Mexico City, and an established intelligence network spanning 28 countries.