In Rough Retail Times, Amateur Gourmands Fuel Growth

In Rough Retail Times, Amateur Gourmands Fuel Growth

In these tumultuous economic times, curtailed consumer spending and shrinking retail growth has become the new norm. 

Writing in the November issue of Nielsen’s “Consumer Insight” online newsletter, Todd Hale, Senior Vice President, Consumer & Shopper Insights, Nielsen, highlights one notable exception to this trend: at-home gourmands, who not only shop more frequently than the average household, but also spend more at club, grocery, drug, and dollar stores.

According to Nielsen, one-third of U.S. households consume a gourmet meal frequently or occasionally, with 83% of those meals eaten in restaurants, 37% at home, and 22% at the homes of friends or relatives.

These food connoisseurs shop specialty kitchen stores (16%), use professional cookware and subscribe to a cooking or gourmet magazine (15%), own professional grade appliances (11%), and patronize gourmet stores (10%), Hale notes.

Each year, these households log five more shopping trips across all retail outlets than non-gourmet households, outspending non-gourmet households by 11%.  

Foodie households also spend 20% more at club stores, 17% more at grocery, 15% more at drug, and 11% more at dollar stores than all other households.  They are not, however, big spenders at mass merchandisers, where they under-spend the average household by 11%, or at mass supercenters, where they spend 5% less.

Food is not the only palate-pleasing provision favored by gourmets, according to Hale.  They spend 66% more than other households at liquor stores and 66% more on alcoholic beverages.  Gourmet cook households also spend 16% more than other households at hardware/home improvement outlets, 15% more online and at office supply stores, and 13% more at electronics stores.

Not surprisingly, foodies are not big fans of highly prepared frozen foods.  Instead, they prefer fresh produce, spending 31% more than other households on fresh fruits and vegetables, Hale notes.  These amateur food aficionados also spend 105% more than non-gourmet cook households on wine, 51% more on liquor, 46% more on spices, seasonings and extracts, 41% more on shortening and oils, 40% more on snacks, spreads, dairy dips, gift cards and party needs, 34% more on butter and margarine, and 31% more on fresh produce.

Despite the currently constrained financial conditions, gourmet-cook households refuse to sacrifice quality, choosing instead to economize by buying larger size packages (27% more likely than other U.S. households) and clipping coupons (13% more likely).

To reduce expenses in these belt-tightening times, gourmet cooks also shop at club stores (31% more likely than other households), buy online (26% more likely), and take public transportation (49% more likely).

What’s the best way to attract consumers from these big spending gourmet households? 

-Stock locally sourced foods that optimize freshness and taste.

-Maintain a carefully balanced assortment of products.

-Incorporate multimedia and online marketing tools that highlight the sensory appeals of gourmet products: color, movement, and sound.

Read the full article.

View the latest issue of “Consumer Insight.”