Insights

Food fight: winning the battle for share of stomachs
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Food fight: winning the battle for share of stomachs

Belgian consumers aren’t just eating at home. They’re also dining out—many quite frequently—and the establishments serving them compete with food retailers and manufacturers in the battle for consumers’ wallets.

Many retailers have rolled out competitively priced ready-to-eat foods to compete with out-of-home dining establishments. How can retailers stave off the competition and protect—and even grow—their share?

Get the product mix right. Some retailers can offer a breadth of cuisine types—from sandwiches to sushi—that allows consumers to select the option that best suits taste buds. But not all retailers can or should provide such a broad array. For some, it may be sufficient to offer consumers an easier, more upscale alternative to what they can make at home. Retailers should assess space and supply chain considerations as well as consumer expectations, when determining the best model.

Prioritize speed. For some consumers, much of the appeal of prepared meals in stores is the ability to quickly pick up dinner while purchasing other items—perhaps grabbing a gallon of milk for breakfast the next morning. But for consumers who are just looking for a quick meal, retailers should prioritize speed and make it easy for consumers to get in and out quickly. For example, consider positioning prepared meals or food-service counters on the perimeter near the front of the store, or provide separate checkout stations so customers can skip the longer lines in the main checkout area.

Emphasize health and be transparent. Busy consumers want the speed of quick-service restaurants, but they also want fresher, more healthful options. Retailers should consider expanding their array of better-for-you options, including those for consumers with special dietary needs. They should also look for opportunities to remove, reduce or replace undesirable ingredients in their prepared foods, and they should prominently tout these benefits with in-store signage. Also, as consumers demand more transparency about the foods they eat, retailers should provide nutritional information for prepared foods to help consumers to make more healthful and better-informed choices. 

Think beyond ready-to-eat. Some consumers may be pressed for time but still enjoy cooking or desire more control over the ingredients that go into their meals, while others may need quick solutions but don’t want a ready-to-eat meal that may be less tasty after it has been sitting for a few days. Whatever the reason, some consumers may prefer other quick-meal solutions beyond fully prepared meals. Retailers should look for opportunities to better serve these consumers, such as offering meal kits that contain premeasured portions of all of the ingredients respondents need to prepare a quick meal at home.

For more detail and insight, download Nielsen’s Global Ingredient and Dining-Out Trends Report. If you would like more detailed country-level data from this survey, it is available for sale in the Nielsen Store.