The Hartman Group's June Jo Lee, right, talks wtih Terry Soto of About Marketing Solutions Inc., left, and Karen Caplan, of Frieda's, following a session about consumer trends at the United Fresh Produce Association Convention in San Diego May 16. SAN DIEGO — More often these days, consumers start with the idea of a meal rather than its components.
Reaching consumers in a department full of ingredients can be a challenge, said June Jo Lee, vice president for Strategic Insights at The Hartman Group, Bellevue, Wash.
“Consumers are looking at the finished product,” she said. “They’re not starting with an onion and lettuce and potatoes.”
Lee said offering consumers easy-to-assemble ingredients that help them put together a meal at home is one strategy retailers can use to attract consumers. Her work focuses on observational data, watching middle- and upper-class consumers in their homes and at the store as a food ethnographer to see what they’re buying and eating or preparing.
“People aren’t shopping for pantry stocking anymore,” she said. “Cooking has become more assembly of components.”
Value-added produce has helped the “assembly of components” trends, she said, and retailers who offer innovative ways to enjoy produce.
“Consumers have adapted very quickly to all the value-added produce products,” she said. “They’ll go to lunch courtesy of Trader Joe’s. One consumer said ‘Trader Joe’s helps me think differently about food.’”
Eating also is an immediate occurrence, Lee said. Chewing gum is in a slump as consumers are opting to eat rather than chew.
“Fifty percent of all eating occasions are snacks,” she said. “And 63% of people decide to eat within an hour of eating.”
Healthful foods like produce can rejoice, however, when they are offered in an easy-to-snack format.
“Fifty-six percent of people wanted something healthy for their next snack,” she said. “We feel snacking is our moral right.”