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Launching The Grocery Eye; research identifying product purchasing perceptions across key FMCG categories

New research assessing awareness and interaction with product purchasing perceptions amongst consumers’ within the FMCG arena has been conducted by SPA Future Thinking.

We examined the habits of 2,000 male and female grocery shoppers to identify perceptions towards purchasing food and drink products. The Grocery Eye has assessed the role of new product launches, brand perceptions, drivers and barriers to purchase, as well as attitudes towards product attributes and ingredients. Key findings include:

  • NPD: 1 in 10 consumers identify the chilled ready meals as one of their top 5 categories most in need of innovation.
  • Innovative food categories: 27% of consumers perceive that the breakfast cereals category launches the most new products.
  • Future Innovation: Confectionery is the category where most consumers (23%) are open to new product ideas.
  • On shelf: 80% believe seeing the product on-shelf is the leading driver to new product awareness.
  • Quality: Quality of ingredients is the most important product attribute, with 88% considering this important.
  • Buying British: Almost two thirds of shoppers see British ingredients as an important attribute to a product.
  • Meal occasions: When it comes to breakfast and lunch, 16-54 year olds consider convenience to be more important than health
  • Fat content leads the way in terms of defining healthy foods (41%) for adults; whilst low sugar content (38%) and no artificial ingredients (33%) is of key importance for kids

Category NPD: Chilled ready meals identified as most in need of innovation
Consumers identified the most innovative FMCG categories within our supermarkets and consider the chilled ready meals category as most in need of innovation (11% choosing it in their top five). They believe the category launching the most new products and seen as most innovative is breakfast cereals (highlighted by 27%) closely followed by confectionery (26%). These are also identified among the leading categories where consumers are open to trying out new product ideas.

The least innovative categories where more innovative products would be welcomed by consumers include savoury biscuits & crackers, meat free produce and savoury pastries. Innovative categories where demand for NPD is still high includes confectionery, crisps and savoury snacks, breakfast cereals, yogurts, cooking sauces and chilled ready meals. Consumers also highlight innovative categories where demand for npd is less, including toothpaste & mouthwash, sports/energy drinks and surface & multipurpose cleaners.

Drivers of new product development success:  On-shelf standout is vital
For raising awareness to new product launches on-shelf stand out is seen as vital to a products success (80% tending to discover new products this way), whilst traditional TV advertising is also still key (58%). Online drivers of awareness are still seen as much lower in terms of driving awareness (any online medium, 27%, with, specifically, the supermarket website most likely at 13%). However there is a generational split; while TV advertising is still a key medium, prevalence of npd discovery is lower for Gen Y, as are print adverts; whilst online advertising among those aged 55+ is less effective in driving awareness.

Importance of product attributes: Younger generations less concerned about British ingredients
88% of consumer’s rate quality of ingredients as the key product attribute, whilst minimal processing (81%) is also important. Alongside ingredients, it is packaging benefits and pack usability that consumers want to see in new product launches (with packaging that keeps the product fresh rated by 85% of consumers).

Whilst 69% of those interviewed favoured British ingredients, Fairtrade (55%) and organically produced (39%) are of less importance as a product attribute. However, there is a distinct generational split, with 80% of 55-64 year olds citing British ingredients as important compared to just 65% of 16-34 year olds. For younger generations trying something new (71%) rates more highly, whereas for older generations alongside Britishness, local ingredients have greater importance in a product.

Meal occasions – product drivers: Convenience more important than health in a product
Whilst product taste is the most important factor for a product across all meal occasions, the role of convenience is rated more highly than health for breakfast and lunch. For breakfast foods 17% rate convenience as the key driver compared to health (15%), whilst for lunch convenience is even more important than health (19% versus 12%) as the most important driver for purchasing food. It is only for evening dinner where we slow down, and health (17%) and variety (12%) is rated more important than convenience by consumers.

Healthy foods: What does ‘healthy’ mean?
For adults fat content leads the way in terms of defining healthy foods (41%) followed by calorie count (29%); whilst for children it is all about sugar content (38%) and no artificial ingredients (33%).

Whilst just under 6 in 10 believe that they are most responsible for eating healthily and leading a healthy lifestyle (58%), over a quarter of adults believe supermarkets (27%) and also their GP and other healthcare professionals (27%) share a responsibility towards healthy eating habits.

In addition, 75% of adults believe parents are primarily accountable for their kids eating healthily; although 60% also believe schools play a prominent role, with responsibility towards educating their child in healthy eating habits.

For 50% of consumers making healthy foods cheaper would be a primary driver to encourage healthy eating. Following this, for 27% of 16-34 year olds, making healthy foods quicker and simpler to cook would have greatest appeal, whilst for over 55 year olds reducing salt, fat and sugar content in products would be welcomed.

Catherine Elms, Research Director at SPA Future Thinking, said: “There is a vast amount of competition within NPD and in a saturated market where supermarkets hold the power and shelf space is at a premium, launching successful new products is increasingly difficult.

“Our research has highlighted how expectations and demand for NPD varies across a range of key food and drink categories as well as the role product attributes play in influencing consumer choice. In addition, whilst the role of taste remains paramount to a products success we are seeing how the role of convenience is now a key consideration when buying food products, clearly reflecting the busy lifestyle led in today’s world.

“By helping to understand consumer needs, behaviours and expectations we are now better placed to advise brands on the types of products they need to launch to ensure broad appeal, which ultimately could mean the difference between success and failure.”

For a detailed overview of consumer perceptions across a range of categories please call or email Catherine Elms, Research Director on +44(0)1865 336 400 or send me a quick email.

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