Food Business News - May 15, 2018 - 34
Authenticity, experience becoming
key components of convenience trend
ecall the Swanson TV Dinners of
the 1950s, the American housewife's solution for a no-fuss family
meal and a symbol of ease, accessibility
and speed. While these traditional tenets
of convenience remain important, today's
consumer expectations of convenience
have evolved to reflect modern cultural
values, said Laurie Demeritt, chief executive officer of The Hartman Group.
"Convenience currently is the No. 1
need articulated by consumers across all
eating occasions," Ms. Demeritt said during
The Hartman Group's Food Culture Forecast 2018 summit on April 19 in Miami.
American families today spend
more hours working, commuting and
taking care of children. Even younger
generations grapple with stress and
anxiety, Ms. Demeritt said. As a result,
consumers are skipping meals, seeking
shortcuts and snacking more.
While the desire for convenience has
increased over time, the historic expectations of reliability, efficiency, uniformity
and predictability no longer resonate
with today's shopper. Rather, convenient
snacks and meal solutions must offer
health and wellness, experience, authenticity and distinction, Ms. Demeritt said.
"Quick, easy and accessible are
still important, but perhaps even more
important now is the engagement, the
empowerment ... and flexibility," she
Empowerment means consumers
today desire some involvement in meal
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preparation, which may include combining shelf-stable items and fresh products
to create a unique eating experience.
"Consumers want to explore and
experiment, but they want a little help
along the way," Ms. Demeritt said.
Engagement, another component of
modern convenience, involves discovery,
creativity and customization. Two-thirds
of convenience-driven occasions include
a need for flavor distinction, Ms. Demeritt said. An example is overnight oats, a
nutritious and customizable breakfast
trend that has inspired recent product
development from brands including
Quaker and Dave's Naturals.
Another aspect of modern convenience is flexibility, which encompasses
Bowls tap into a number of modern convenience cues, including variety, customization,
fresh and healthy.
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packaging design, portability and portion size. Examples include single-serve
apple cider vinegar shots and powdered
bone broth mixes, which deliver health
benefits for consumers on the go.
In food service, bowls, a popular
menu trend, particularly in the fast-casual restaurant segment, tap into a
number of modern convenience cues,
including variety, customization, fresh
and healthy ingredients, global flavors
"Q.S.R.s today are not just putting
out those old convenience cues but are
starting to incorporate some of the new
convenience cues to stay relevant," Ms.
Demeritt said, citing as an example McDonald's Corp., which in recent months
has adapted to changing consumer
tastes with the launches of fresh beef
patties, all-day breakfast and new Big
Similarly, grocery retailers must
innovate beyond the rotisserie chicken
to continue to meet new standards for
convenience, Ms. Demeritt said, noting
deli prepared foods and in-store meal
kits as opportunities.
"Convenience today is not just about
the product or service," she said. "There's
a physicality to the product that's
important - how you make it, how you
cook it, where you buy it. But there's also
a lot going on around that. So (consider)
the whole experience... purchasing it, using it, and let's not forget about disposing
it as well." FBN
May 15, 2018