Americans Still Like to Cook at Home

A survey from Taste of Home shows that consumer attitudes about cooking at home and healthy eating are still popular.

The 2022 Cooking At Home Study shows there have been large shifts in the behaviors of people cooking at home over the past two years. This includes more experimentation to better meal planning to online grocery shopping. The Taste of Home report surveyed 4,000 people over the age of 18. 

In the study, 68% of respondents said they seek out healthy meals and quality ingredients, with 60% saying they cook at home five or more times a week. Another 81% of respondents said they enjoy cooking more now than prior to the pandemic.

Convenience is also important as 53% said they want more ways to make meal prep easier. This is especially true among younger cooks: 69% of Millennials said they wanted better ways to make meal preparations easier. Seeking new recipes is also popular as 62% of those surveyed said they were seeking new recipes more than they did six months ago.

For preparation, the Cooking At Home study found consumers said the optimal time to get dinner on the table is 31- 45 minutes. When asked what they liked or would like to improve about their current kitchens, 63% said storage and organization as their greatest aspiration while another 72% said they are currently pleased with their kitchen set up.

What Drives C-Store Customer Behavior?

A report from Bluedot examines consumer sentiment toward convenience stores. Bluedot’s inaugural “Convenience Experience Report” found c-store consumers are increasingly demanding while mobile ordering, drive-thru and curbside pickup as they equate them increasingly with fast food restaurants, according to customer arrival platform.

The study surveyed over 1,500 consumers about their views of convenience stores, and found c-stores are becoming true competitors to traditional grocery stores and restaurants. The report stated that 59% of respondents consider purchasing a meal from a convenience store when looking for fast food while another 61% say they would visit c-stores more often if they had curbside pickup, drive-thru or mobile ordering options.

When making a stop for gas, 23% said they always enter the store while 77% said they sometimes enter the store. Once inside, various food items are popular. Fifty-one percent purchase snacks, 20% purchase grocery products and 27% purchase refrigerated gab-and-go items.

Emil Davityan, Bluedot’s co-founder and CEO said "The data supports what industry leaders have been saying for some time – c-stores are now competing head-to-head with QSRs. Clearly, the investments c-store brands have been making into foodservice initiatives are paying off."

However, the study also found consumers do not like lines at c-stores. Thirty percent of consumers said they will leave a c-store if there are two people in line at the register while 54% said they would leave if there were three or more waiting in line. Further, one in three will drive away from the pump if there is just one car ahead of them.

Consumers Trust Food Brands but Lack Loyalty

Morning Consult has found food and beverage is the most trusted industry with more than seven in 10 U.S. adults having faith in these companies, according to its “Most Trusted Brands 2022” report.

However, the data revealed that while consumers tend to have long-term relationships with food and beverage brands, they are not afraid to switch when that trust wanes. Morning Consult noted more than one in three consumers said they have switched food and beverage brands when this occurred, which is more than any other category.

Walmart is among the highest scoring retailers in the report. Its private label brand Great Value, is the No. 11 most trusted food and beverage brand among millennials. As cash-strapped consumers deal with price increases on grocery store shelves, more of them are turning to private label, especially younger consumers like millennials who might have less income than older shoppers.

Respondents were asked which attributes they ranked as the most important. Baby boomers were soundly behind good value for price, high-quality products and services and consistent delivery on promises. Even though these also were highly valued with Gen Z adults and millennials, younger demographics tended to value more other factors, including good customer service, sustainability, and customer reviews.

Trust in the food industry was especially high among baby boomers (84%) and high-income consumers (82%). However, that trust slips a bit among younger consumers. Sixty-two percent of Gen Z adults and 67% of millennials have strong trust in the industry.


Three in Ten Consumers Struggling to Afford Groceries

During May, IRI found 30% of consumers struggled to afford groceries and 24% opted for private labels.

Overall, 77% said they had altered their grocery purchases and their buying behaviors in response to inflation. That is an increase of six percentage points from April and 16 percentage points higher than what IRI found in November.

Almost all consumers said they are concerned about rising prices, with half of them saying they are very concerned. More than half said they are extremely worried about higher gas prices. In addition to the 30% who struggle to afford groceries, nearly four in 10 described their financial health as strained.

Shoppers' most popular tactics for dealing with inflation at the grocery store were looking for sales and specials, cited by 45% of consumers, and making a list and sticking to it, which 39% of shoppers are doing. Another 23% are buying less items on their grocery trips.

Cutbacks in spending also affected some consumers' store choices. Sixteen percent said they shopped a wider range of stores during the month to capitalize on promotions, while another 19% said they are turning to dollar stores and/or low-cost grocers to save money.


Consumers Turn to Clean Eating to Battle Stress

The International Food Information Council’s (IFIC)17th annual Food and Health Survey has found that consumers are stressed out but trying to become healthier through cleaner eating and snacking much more often.

The top four eating patterns consumers say they are following are clean eating, mindful eating, calorie counting and plant-based products. Slightly more than half of all consumers say they are following a specific diet or eating pattern, an increase to 52% from 39% in 2021. More than one-third say they want to protect their long-term health, while about the same amount are interested in losing weight.

Stress is leading to more snacking by consumers. IFIC found a total of 73% of consumers snack at least once a day, which is an increase of 15 percentage points from 2021. Fifty-six percent of consumers reported feeling at least somewhat stressed during the last six months. Of those who have felt very stressed in the last six months, nearly 30% snack at least three times a day.

The report found stress is a major factor in what consumers are choosing to eat. IFIC found 54% of consumers who tried to alleviate stress through eating have made healthier food choices. But one in four said they always or often eat when they feel stressed. As consumers snack more now — and the survey found increases in snacking throughout the entire day — healthier snacks win out in the morning, with 43% of consumers picking up fruits. Later in the day, however, the snacks get less healthy. The most popular evening and late-night snacks include those that are salty or savory, candy or chocolate, and cookies, cake, or ice cream.

Consumers’ desire for cleaner labels is seen throughout the comprehensive survey. When IFIC asked those surveyed to define healthy foods, most consumers said they were fresh, low in sugar, good sources of protein and containing fruits and vegetables. Almost half said that a product described as having clean ingredients on its label would be healthier than one that had identical nutritional properties but no claim, and more than half felt that way about a product with an “all-natural” claim.

The online survey, which studied consumer attitudes and behavior toward food and shopping, was conducted among 1,005 Americans ages 18 to 80 between March 23 and April 4. Results were weighted by age, gender, education, race/ethnicity, and region to reflect the 2021 American Population Survey.


IRI: PL Loyalists = NB Loyalists

An IRI report shows that private label loyalists (shoppers that buy them over 75% of the time) now equal those of national brands in all key European markets. Private labels account for €194 bn, making up 35% of total FMCG value sales in Europe as the gap narrows between national brands, the researcher revealed.

Around 50% of shoppers switch between both, with most now appearing in the mid-income bracket, but also with high-income cohorts in France and Germany. Private label shoppers are looking beyond price. Where they intend to spend more or less in 2022 and beyond, is in line with wider category trends.

According to IRI, private labels now occupy a global category footprint of 16.5% of FMCG value sales. Driven by several growth factors, private labels are said to offer the same or better quality, affordability, healthier options, consumer acceptance and portfolio stratification into premium.

Private labels have become a substitute in several growth categories for many national brands, having undergone significant transformation that focusses on quality, trust, environmental credentials, innovation and delivery on claims.

From their humble, discount-focused beginnings, over the past five years private labels have become “formidable competitors” to the brands, despite the drop in the pandemic, said Ananda Roy, SVP, Strategic Growth Insights, IRI International and author of the report. 

Global Grocery E-Commerce Grows

The annual Omnichannel report from Kantar reveals that online grocery sales grew more than 15% in 2021, in a global grocery market, which grew 2.1%. The total market growth of 2.1% is in line with the average pre-pandemic growth, and means the market held on to the double-digit growth gains it made in the 2020 phase of the pandemic.

The Western Europe market declined 0.2% as purchase patterns began to normalise with fewer lockdowns.

Supermarkets/hypermarkets remain the dominant channel for FMCG sales globally, however with growth of just 0.1% its share of sales fell to 51.4%, from 52.4% in 2020 and 53.1% in 2019.

E-commerce now accounts for a 7.2% share of global grocery spend. The growth is driven by Asia, which comprises 45% of all online FMCG sales; almost double that of the U.S.’s (4.8%) or Western Europe’s (6.9%) contribution to the overall share.

Survey: Consumers Are 'Hybrid' Shopping

A recent survey of 1,000 consumers by Radial has revealed that while shopping online remains popular, consumers are also starting to return to shopping in store in larger numbers.

Radial’s survey found 54% of respondents said they are shopping online more now than they did in 2020, with one-third of those saying they shop online a few times a week.

How products are delivered is an important decision-making aspect for online shoppers. Free shipping was found to be the most important consideration and consumers would sacrifice the speed of delivery for it. Only 23% said they would forego free shipping and receive an item they had ordered faster by paying for next-day shipping.

But speed of delivery could also mean changing the products they order. Almost 60% of those surveyed by Radial said they will seek products from other brands or retailers if it meant they could receive them faster.

While online shopping continues its popularity, consumers are also returning to stores. The survey revealed that 63% of shoppers are no longer as worried about COVID-19 and are willing to shop in-person without fear of exposure. 

Going to the store to pick up items is also popular with consumers. Radial found 24% of shoppers picked curbside pickup as the second most preferred service while 36% ranked ‘By Online Pickup In Store’ (BOPIS) as their third most preferred service

The price consciousness of consumers is continuing to grow with shoppers who were surveyed. Forty percent of respondents have stopped purchasing items that are not necessities, while 34% have delayed less-important purchases. Another 26% reported they had bundled purchases for online orders to reduce fees or shipping costs.

Most Households Subscribe to Retail Membership Programs

Research from data and tech company Numerator finds 62% of U.S. households are subscribers to at least one retail membership program. Numerator studied Amazon Prime, Walmart+ and Target’s Shipt Everyday services, and analyzed membership numbers, customer loyalty data and benefits from membership that influence consumers’ choices.

Of the memberships studied, Amazon Prime is the most popular, with 53.6% of U.S. households as subscribers. While 8% of households subscribe to Walmart+, Numerator said this service has seen a surge in members since its launch in 2020. Only 1.3% of households subscribe to Shipt Everyday, which Numerator noted is only available in limited markets.

Despite its limited availability, Numerator found Shipt Everyday captured 10.1% of its subscribers’ share vs. 4.3% of their total shoppers’ share. Walmart+ captured the highest purchase frequency, buy rate, and share of wallet from subscribers, capturing 18.5% of its subscribers’ share vs. 14.6% of their total shoppers’ share.

But Amazon was found to have the highest loyalty. Seventy-eight percent of Prime members do not subscribe to any other membership program. That compares with the 28% who only subscribe to Target’s Shipt Everyday and the 24% who only use Walmart+. Nearly three in four Walmart+ subscribers (73%) also have Amazon Prime, while 53% of Target’s Shipt Everyday members also have Prime.

Four in five households that count themselves as retail subscribers are committed to just one program, while 13.8% subscribe to two programs; 3.7% subscribe to three; and 2.5% subscribe to four or more programs. According to Numerator, consumers who subscribed to more than one program were more likely to be Black or Hispanic/Latino, from larger households, value-driven and buy on impulse.

Rising Grocery Prices Could Boost Store Brands

A survey by Vericast finds as rising grocery prices continue to put the squeeze on shoppers’ wallets, it is also increasing their stress levels and turning many of them to buying more store brands.

The survey found 50% of all consumers and 64% of millennials indicated making spending decisions as prices rise has taken a toll on their mental health. This comes from some tough decisions consumers must make in either cost cutting or choices on what is most important to them.

One of the decisions many have made is to buy store brand products. Vericast found that 72% of respondents report they are buying more store or private-label brand products to save money.

When it comes to grocer loyalty amidst the inflated cost of groceries, Vericast said 64% of respondents have not changed the grocery store they frequently shop at within the last six months, but 27% have changed grocery stores in the last six months to save money.

Dave Cesaro, Vericast’s retail and consumer behavior expert, said the finding that 27% have changed stores was surprising given how many continue to stay with the stores they have always visited.

“Chances are the new store they’ve chosen is not as close or convenient as the original, which means these consumers are shopping around, even for necessities, because saving money is that important to them.”

The study also reported that 88% of shoppers were turning to coupons or discounts that are motivating them to buy something from a brand or store they have not shopped at before. 

For the study, Vericast surveyed 1,000 U.S. adults to assess consumer behavior changes during inflationary times.