By Michael Uetz, managing principal, Midan Marketing, strategic meat marketing, research and creative communications agency.
Fall is once again right around the corner, bringing with it school, homework and extracurriculars that push the average consumer’s schedule into overdrive. On top of that, inflation is at an all-time high, adding one more layer of stress to the weekly grocery trip. Now more than ever, shoppers will be looking to grocery retailers to help them get dinner on the table – quickly, conveniently and affordably.
Over the course of the pandemic, more consumers turned to convenience products as a way to maintain a sense of normalcy. Convenience Chasers, one of the shopper groups in the Midan Marketing Meat Consumer Segmentation 2.0 study, accounted for 39 percent of meat buyers in fall 20201 – up 9 percent from when the study was originally fielded in early 2019. This, plus a sustained preference for eating meals at home (82 percent of meals were prepared at home in January2), has led many shoppers to take a more serious look at the convenience options in the meat case.
One of the ways we’ve seen convenience take off in the meat case is within value added products. According to the 2022 Power of Meat Report, two-thirds of meat shoppers say they “sometimes” or “frequently” purchase value added meat and poultry products, which can range from prepared kebabs to pre-formed hamburgers and pre-marinated chicken wings. This was also reflected in sales data for 2021, with value added fresh meat seeing a 10.6 percent volume increase over 2019.3
The shoppers opting for value added products tend to skew younger, with 37 percent of Gen Zs and 35 percent of Millennials saying they frequently purchase these products (compared to 26 percent of all meat shoppers). They’re also more likely to have kids at home and buy their meat online, such as via click and collect from their local retailer. Knowing this, it should be no surprise that the top reason shoppers purchase value added meat or poultry is to save time. Coming in as the second reason is value added will have a better taste or flavor than preparing it at home. A big takeaway comes in the third reason for choosing these products, though — value added meats make it easy to try something different.3
Consumers have now been cooking a majority of their meals at home for more than two years. While their confidence in the kitchen has grown, that doesn’t mean cooking fatigue didn’t set in ages ago. Many shoppers today, when standing in front of the meat case, aren’t actually looking for meat – they’re looking for meals. Items that can inspire a whole meal check off multiple boxes for consumers. Pre-marinated or pre-seasoned proteins also let shoppers try new flavors without spending money on spices they may only use once or twice.
Another convenience area that has seen growth during the pandemic is the frozen section. Ninety-four percent of meat buying households also purchase products from the frozen meals aisle, according to data from IRI. Additionally, over half of shoppers who purchase fresh meat or poultry also purchase frozen meat.4 Frozen burger patties are one easy way to get a quick meal on the table – and save a few dollars compared to their fast-food counterparts.
“A time-saving frozen burger offering both stand-alone taste and limitless opportunities to experiment is a win for everyone,” said Andy Stenson, VP of marketing at BUBBA foods. “Busy families can rely on an outstanding burger at home, and retailers can cross-merchandise with a variety of toppings to capture the curious consumer.”
Burgers, like those offered by BUBBA foods, are also a great, easy way for consumers to experiment. In March, 56 percent of meat consumers said they were looking to experiment with meat/chicken and try new recipes.5 BUBBA burger comes in 12 beef varieties spanning a range of flavors for consumers to try and they aren’t limited to being eaten between a bun. Stenson provided inspiration to crumble the cooked patties in protein bowls, wraps, salads or even cheeseburger-stuffed bell peppers.
Other convenience areas
There is a plethora of other ways to bring your shoppers an extra dose of convenience in the meat case. Sixty-four percent of shoppers say they would be interested in more in-store meal kits that include meat/poultry as well as all other recipe ingredients for the meal. This is even after the category grew 40.5 percent in 2021. Blended items that you can find in the full-service meat case are also gaining popularity. Sales of meat-stuffed vegetables grew 23.7 percent last year and over half of consumers want to see more of these options at their stores.
Finally, deli-prepared, ready-to-eat meat, poultry and even side dishes are a big hit with convenience shoppers. Sixty-seven percent of consumers (76 percent of Millennials) want more fully cooked options. These categories also all saw sales increases in 2021.3
Convenience for many customers also comes in the form of e-commerce offerings. Throughout the pandemic, shoppers have grown more comfortable ordering their groceries, including fresh meats, online and this trend has continued even during periods where pandemic restrictions have loosened.
Consumers have gotten used to filling their electronic shopping cart online throughout the week and scheduling a convenient time for pickup or delivery. In March 2022, about half of meat consumers purchased at least some of their meat online and 79 percent of these purchased online from their local grocery retailer.5
Convenience is king for today’s consumers and as an industry we need to respond to that. By offering convenient meal and shopping solutions, consumers can spend less time making meal decisions and more time helping their kids finish homework after a long afternoon of sports practices. Remember – shoppers are looking for meals, not just meat, and they’re looking to us for inspiration.
For more information, visit midanmarketing.com.
- 1 Midan Marketing, Meat Consumer Segmentation 2.1, September 2020
- 2 IRI, IRI Shopper Survey, January 2021
- 3 Anne-Marie Roerink, Principal, 210 Analytics LLC, The Power of Meat 2022, Report sponsored by Sealed Air Food Care Division/Cryovac® and Published by FMI and the Foundation for Meat & Poultry Research & Education
- 4 IRI, More Than ‘Meats’ The Eye Webinar, March 2022.
- 5 Midan Marketing, Meat Consumer Tracking Survey, March 2022