Meal Planning.....Why Grocers Need It

As the penetration of online grocery shopping is expected to increase over the next few years, another trend has emerged in consumer behavior: home cooking. According to a recent Peapod study, “Over one third of Americans are planning to cook dinner at home more often. In 2016, 72% reported cooking at home at least 4 nights per week.” Peapod also found that over half of consumers like to meal plan because it saves them time, money and allows them to make healthier food choices by being inspired by easy recipes. This aspect of inspiration is especially critical considering moms more often than not have a set of go to recipes that they tend to use because they’re tried and true with their families.  Meal planning provides a new level of convenience by easily helping moms effectively manage and shop against the recipes they know while also building their family’s recipe repertoire to introduce variety into their meals - a huge win for both consumers and grocers. How can Grocers harness this new trend? By offering meal planning options during the shopping experience.

Understanding how consumers cook and what motivates their food choices could have incredible financial impacts in their shopping behavior such as higher order size and increased purchase frequency. This impact really depends on how the grocer can influence the shopping experience.

We only need to look at how the Meal Kit industry has exploded over the past few years to show how much consumers are moving towards easier meal solutions.  “Overall, 9% of Americans say they’ve purchased a meal kit in the last six months—that’s 10.5 million households. What’s more, 25% of consumers say they would consider trying a meal kit in the next six months—that’s more than 30 million households.”  While impressive numbers, less than 10% of consumers have actually subscribed to a meal kit.

Considering the barriers for growth for meal kits are price and commitment, Grocers can offer more options with better convenience and value as an added benefit to consumers which naturally results in Meal Planning solutions. Adding meal planning options can benefit both consumers and grocers by removing the friction associated with grocery shopping. We see the biggest area of opportunity is the integration of recipes directly during the shopping experience. This tackles the 2 biggest concerns for home cooking: time & inspiration.  

Personalized recipe use during the shopping experience can do multiple things. First, it cross-pollinates customers favorite brands and ingredients with potential recipes for a richer discovery process. Secondly, it helps with efficiency. 69% of women shoppers still use grocery lists (note, that is important considering that women still do 70% of the grocery shopping). They are often shopping with a purpose and we can assume that most have done some meal planning ahead of time. By infusing meal planning into the online shopping experience grocers offer an added benefit by saving the customer a step while at the same time presenting them with functionality they might be doing ahead of time, during list making. That convenience can build loyalty and repeat shoppers. It also gives customers a reason to stay loyal.

So, if you are considering online grocery, an integrated digital meal planning solution should be at the top of your list!

Danielle Petersen