by Daniel Granderson
September 4, 2019
The food culture and buying habits of affluent food shoppers (the 42 million food shoppers in the U.S. with household incomes of $150,000 or more) cause them to have a disproportionate impact on the bottom line of brick-and-mortar supermarkets and grocery stores. Affluent food shoppers are more prone than other food shoppers to shy away from conventional shelf-stable packaged foods and are more likely to spend their money and time on buying and experiencing higher margin store perimeter products and services.
In the market research report Affluent Food Shoppers, Packaged Fact identifies four key ways that U.S. grocers can better attract and meet the needs of this important consumer segment.
Whether they actually shop in natural food stores or not, affluent food shoppers clearly reflect the food culture of the natural channel. This means grocers interested in expanding their affluent shopper base need to promote values such as fair trade, local sourcing, sustainably grown products, humane treatment of animals, and clean labeling. It also means carrying brands that align with the mindset of affluent food shoppers. For example, brands meeting the expectations of affluent food shoppers often have a philanthropic image and frequently characterize their ingredients and products with terms such as “honest,” “authentic,” “trusted,” “finest,” “freshest,” natural,” “pure,” “real,” and “safe.”
Since affluent food shoppers are far more likely to buy organic fresh and frozen foods, stores need to provide a full range of options in this category. For example, data featured in the report reveals that affluent food shoppers are 40% more likely than food shoppers on average and even more likely than non-affluent food shoppers to use organic meat or poultry and frozen foods.
In many ways, affluent food shoppers are just as likely as food shoppers on average to use a wide variety of condiments, such as ketchup, mustard, dry mix salad dressing, marinades, and spaghetti/pasta sauce. A number of shelf-stable packaged foods are much less likely to gain the attention of affluent food shoppers, such as packaged instant potatoes, canned chili, shelf-to-microwave dinners, and canned spaghetti. However, affluent food shoppers are just as likely as food shoppers on average to buy items such as packaged pasta, rice and rice dishes, canned or packaged soup, cold and hot breakfast cereals, and canned tomatoes.
Still, grocers need to respond to the fact that the center store choices of affluent food shoppers stand apart in two ways. First, when affluent food shoppers do buy shelf-stable foods, they have a high propensity to select brands other than popular national brands. Many of these are likely to be those often found in stores in the natural channel.
Moreover, they are much more prone to use a wide range of organic shelf-stable foods. For example, affluent food shoppers are 25% more likely to use organic breakfast cereal and 34% more likely to use organic pasta.
Grocery stores face stiff competition for affluent food shopper dollars from restaurants and meal delivery services. Affluent food shoppers are far more likely than their non-affluent counterparts to agree with the statement "I often go out to eat because my life is too hectic to put a meal on the table every night" or to have ever used a restaurant meal delivery service such as Grubhub or Uber Eats.
Highly affluent food shoppers are especially likely to avoid cooking at home and shopping. Yet, data indicates that affluent food shoppers currently exhibit relatively lukewarm interest in the prepared food choices they currently find in their supermarkets and grocery stores. Affluent food shoppers are somewhat less likely than their non-affluent counterparts to agree they often eat store-made meals. Likewise, affluent food shoppers are somewhat less likely to buy prepackaged store-made meals, although they are somewhat more likely to use in-store cafes.
The Market Bistro concept store of Schenectady, New York-based Price Chopper provides one example of how supermarket chains are attempting to continuously improve the quality and desirability of their in-store foodservice offerings. The store includes a full-service sit-down restaurant as well as individually branded foodservice stations. The company transfers menu items to its Price Chopper and Market 32 stores when they have proven to be suitable for expansion.
Other grocers are bringing in established small local or specialty restaurant brands to diversify their foodservice options. Examples include Kroger Co.—which has partnered with a number of small restaurant brands—and Rouses (based in Thibodaux, Louisiana), which has installed a branded Asian stir-fry operation in some of its stores.
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