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Monday, October 25, 2010

students are 60% more likely than average to have dinner foodservice at a grocery store or supermarket

As part of our foodservice reports series, we’ve paid close attention to the increasing competition restaurants face from food retail prepared foods. According to Dinner Trends in U.S. Foodservice (October 2010), prepared foods are succeeding with students, who are limited-service restaurant stalwarts. Our proprietary consumer research indicates that students are 60% more likely than average to have dinner foodservice at a grocery store or supermarket, and about 40% more likely than average to have dinner at a convenience store/gas station.
So, while students may not go grocery shopping as often or spend as much there as consumers who have more established households, they clearly respond to convenience-minded offerings when they visit. We believe this provides significant opportunity for food retailers, not just because students are generally more convenience-driven but also because they are more health-conscious. As a group, students may be prone to say they want healthier fare and then make contrarian food decisions—a function of impulse, cost-considerations and the metabolic hubris of youth. But as more and more university foodservice programs have come to understand, students will embrace more healthful options if they meet cost and quality parameters—and the supermarket is optimally positioned to leverage own-branding to provide healthful fare.

But the most significant benefits may run longer-term. Having grown up during what we have coined “The Restaurant Age,” students aged 18-24 are as far removed from routine grocery shopping (and home cooking) as any generation before them. By providing prepared foods that meet their needs, food retailers not only drive a wedge between students and restaurants; they can also leverage that wedge to bring them into the home-cooking fold, by educating on meal planning and meal budgeting, or by using the prepared foods space as a bridge to introduce easy-to-cook meals that blend old-fashioned standards such as mac-and-cheese and spaghetti with new-found international and/or aspirational ingredients—for a reasonable cost, of course.More>

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