Its new report, called Before the Store, found that most grocery shopping decisions are made before the shopper reaches the store – and said that food manufacturers could benefit by gaining a better understanding of the factors that influence the decision making process.
Author of the report and executive director of product development at NPD Ann Hanson said: “Cost, variety, and convenience are constant challenges for household meal planners, and an opportunity for manufacturers and retailers to become part of the solution.”
In particular, NPD said that most consumers regularly use recipes for meal planning, with 34 percent of households saying they use recipes at least weekly, and 69 percent saying they use them at least monthly. Meanwhile, impulse shopping is tied to issues of both cost and convenience, the market researcher said.
“Understanding the meal preparation process prior to grocery shopping, behavior around recipes, impulse purchases, and the use of prepared foods can help manufacturers, food retailers, and marketers design effective strategies for increasing loyalty, trip frequency, and basket size,” Hanson said.
Meal planning is still more common than not. According to NPD, nearly three out of four households plan some evening meals (71 percent), and about half plan at least some breakfasts and lunches in advance.
Hanson said: “The frequency of meal planning is an indication that many purchase decisions are made prior to grocery shopping. Retailers and manufacturers who can help consumers address meal planning challenges have the potential to become ingrained in the family meal planning and shopping cycle.”
NPD said that the household shopper and person who prepares meals is still most commonly a woman, and the most common challenges for meal preparers are finding new ideas for main meals, finding meals that are quick to make, and staying within a budget.