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Retailer Meal Solutions a Rising Force in the Battle for Consumer Dollars

Grocery shops, drug stores, restaurants and fast-food stores are all battling for a share of consumers’ stomachs, and in this battle, retailers seem to have the upper hand, according to an updated study from Technomic. The group’s 2015 Retailer Meal Solutions (RMS) Consumer Trend Report finds that consumers are purchasing RMS more often, many times at the detriment of fast-food outlets.

Technomic found that 84% of consumers purchase RMS at least once a month, up from just 79% of consumers in 2012. The increase is largely attributed to younger consumers in the 18 to 34 age bracket, who are increasingly reliant upon foodservice in general. According to Kelly Weikel, director of consumer insights at Technomic:

“Further enhancing the in-store experience and innovating with differentiated, restaurant-quality menu items will help retail-prepared food operators continue to steal share of stomach…. Operators and suppliers can appeal to consumers by offering dishes featuring new and ethnic flavors, such as spicy Asian flavors and regional Latin flavors.”

The study, which compiled findings from over 1,500 U.S. consumers and Technomic’s MenuMonitor and Digital Resource Library, also included some other key takeaways:

  • Fast-food locations are at the most risk of losing sales to RMS purchase, as 49% of respondents (including 60% of Millennials) reported visiting fast-food restaurants less as a result of RMS purchases.
  • Convenience stores are gaining ground in the sector, with nearly half of consumers aged 18-34 making a RMS purchases at least once a week.
  • Despite a lower overall engagement rate, drug store RMS offerings have a loyal following: although only 19% of all consumers ever purchased RMS from drugstores, 43% of those did so at least once a week.

The rise of RMS products is an interesting shift in the foodservice industry, opening new avenues of growth for traditional retailers. Shoppers are showing retailers that they are looking for a quick meal solution following a shopping trip, and forward-thinking brands and products will position themselves for success by taking advantage of these market opportunities.