Urban, Rural Families Differ in Paths of Purchase

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Urban, Rural Families Differ in Paths of Purchase


Consumers in urban and suburban homes tend to consume similar foods at similar rates, compared to those in rural homes. What differentiates these groups are factors such as where they obtain their food, how often they dine out, and their attitudes toward health and nutrition.

According to The NPD Group’s National Eating Trends (NET), the vast majority of households purchase their food and beverages from traditional grocery stores, but the role of supercenters increases greatly for homes outside of metropolitan areas. In fact, 18 percent of both urban and suburban homemakers identify supercenters as their primary source for groceries, but that figure jumps to more than 30 percent for rural homes.

About 90 percent of consumers in rural areas identify themselves as white/non-Hispanic; by contrast, urban areas are far more culturally diverse. The NPD’s “It’s Mealtime with U.S. Hispanics” report reveals that Hispanic homes in the U.S. emphasize tradition when bringing food to the table. This dynamic in metropolitan areas makes marketing to consumers more complicated due to their diverse eating habits.

Shoppers in rural areas are generally part of larger households, and are also more likely to source their meals, particularly dinners, from their homes compared to urban consumers. NET shows that 14 percent of dinners in rural homes are sourced from commercial restaurants, compared to 19 percent in urban homes. While there is greater availability of supercenters in rural areas, shoppers in these areas are influenced to shop them based on their household compositions. Rural shoppers demand products that allow them to stay within their budgets and conveniently feed all family members.

NET also reveals that primary food preparers in rural homes are less likely to believe they know more about nutrition than most people. Also highlighting a need for nutritional education is the fact that obesity rates are higher in rural areas.

The NPD Group provides comprehensive consumer and retail information for a wide range of industries.