“What’s for dinner?”
That’s the question — and quandary — facing many shoppers as the traditional dinner hour draws near.
Some consumers who venture to grocery stores may walk in with an ingredient list and a mission. Many people, though, have no idea what they’ll be having for dinner when they visit a supermarket.
Make that most people: According to Chicago-based food data company Food Genius, up to 80 percent of Americans don’t know what they’re having for dinner by 4 p.m. the same day.
What’s more, a majority of consumers don’t particularly like the task of making dinner. Industry analyst Eddie Yoon, author of “Superconsumers: A Simple, Speedy and Sustainable Path to Superior Growth,” reports that only 10 percent of consumers love to cook, 45 percent “hate it,” and 45 percent are “lukewarm” about cooking.
That said, while they aren’t big on planning or cooking, consumers are still big on eating and enjoying their food, especially younger consumers. One survey conducted by Chicago-based online grocer Peapod and ORC International, in Princeton, N.J., shows that Millennial consumers are twice as likely to eat dinner at home and prefer meals that are easier to cook.
Industry analysts see the same shift in consumers who like the idea of cooking but not the time-consuming preparation, and who need help finding solutions to their dinner dilemmas.
"I don’t think there’s any question that the answer to ‘Is the need for dinner solutions more acute now?’ is yes,” observes Bill Bishop, chief architect and co-founder of Barrington, Ill.-based consulting firm Brick Meets Click. “I think it has to do with peoples’ schedules, skills and changing preferences."
Given the current need states, are grocers doing enough to provide dinnertime solutions to shoppers? According to its 2017 U.S. supermarket experience study, the Lake Success, N.Y.-based Retail Feedback Group reports that supermarket customers gave an overall satisfaction rating of 4.42 out of 5.0 before 3 p.m., and a lower rating of 4.36 out of 5.0 between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Steven Johnson, “grocerant guru” at Tacoma, Wash.-based Foodservice Solutions, thinks that grocers should be keeping close tabs on what people want and expect to avoid such dissatisfaction.
“The team that conducts our Foodservice Solutions Grocerant ScoreCards continues to find that consumers do not believe that traditional grocery stores are addressing the need for answering the question of what’s for dinner,” he notes. “In fact, when our in-store teams ask consumers, ‘Does [this store] provide simple meal solutions for dinner?’ 76.1 percent of consumers asked between 2014 and 2017 said no.”
- Offer such convenient solutions as prepared meal options placed by the entrance, meal kits and an order-ahead/pickup option.
- Promote dinner selections in hot-food bars, prepared food areas, deli and grocerants.
- Variety is important in capturing and recapturing shopper attention,so make sure to rotate dinner menus.
- Drive unit sales with digital meal-planning menu boards in the meat department, and product sampling.