Who is the Irish Chilled Ready Meals Shopper and what do they want?
John Tobin, Data and Intelligence Specialist
Following last week’s article providing an overview of the Chilled Ready Meals category in the Irish market, this insightful article provides a summary of the main findings from Shopper Intelligence’s presentation by taking a deeper dive into answering the questions of how and why consumers shop the chilled ready meals category. To answer this, Shopper Intelligence using survey responses discussed the following topics:
- The role of the category in the store
- The chilled ready meals shopper
- Pre-store and in-store behaviour
The Category Role
Source: Shopper intelligence
To define the role of the category a matrix is used to identify what role this category might play in a store by looking at the degree of intentionality and engagement. With regards to intentionality this measures the degree to which a category purchased is pre-planned i.e. the primary reason for visiting the store and engagement aims to uncover if the shopper wants to browse the category, trade up or do they know what they want to buy and minimize their time spent shopping (for example grab and go). This then seeks to place a category such as chilled ready meals into this matrix as shown above and can offer suggestions to food and drink companies and retailers on how best to target their marketing efforts. Chilled ready meals purchases over-index for being 'unplanned’ and shoppers buying in this space tend to be more engaged. This would suggest then that chilled ready meals would fit in the above image denoted by “X”. Something they do not plan to purchase/isn't always on the shopping list and are looking for inspiration and over time have become more open to browsing this category compared with the average category in the store.
The Chilled Ready Meals Shopper
When looking at shopper demographics of the category, more than half tend to be aged between 35-54 years of age, are female and buy this category as part of their main shop. These purchases are for their own casual dinner at home as opposed to for a spouse/partner or the whole family (which was identified as an area for development for the category). Looking at the casual dinner at home occasion the rank of this metric for chilled ready meals was in the top 20% across all 153 categories Shopper Intelligence analyses, highlighting the importance of this category for this type of meal occasion.
Pre-store and In-store Behaviour
How shoppers behave in this category was discussed in terms of what role this category plays in consumers’ decisions to go shopping. As shown earlier, chilled ready meals reside in the “profit booster” quadrant implying that the category isn’t a traffic driver i.e. the primary reason consumers go shopping. However, exploring traffic in greater detail shows that the use of pre store promotions for this category can encourage consumers to buy this category and if the retailer is believed to do this category well was another reason where chilled ready meals can contribute to driving traffic. In both cases, the rank for chilled ready meals was in the top third again highlighting the relative importance of this category on both metrics. Where a retailer is perceived to provide a good offering encourage consumers to shop there, thus driving loyalty. Survey respondents were found to not look at prices in this category to determine if a retailer is good value and similar to Kantar’s findings, price is not the most important factor.
When it comes to pre-store planning, Chilled ready meals shoppers under-index - ie they are less likely to have this on the shopping list than the average category in the store The implication here is that this category can play a role helping to increase basket sizes by enticing shoppers to purchase a chilled ready meal they had not planned on previously. The primary source of these unplanned purchases of chilled ready meals amongst respondents was a trigger in the store such as a promotional trigger while display and innovations were also identified as triggers to drive unplanned purchases amongst these respondents.
For in-store behaviour, shoppers were asked for their desired mode of shopping the category, and again when benchmarked against the average category, chilled ready meals shoppers say they want to spend time browsing, with respondents who indicated their preference for browsing giving reasons such as interest in the category, uncertainty and enjoying the process all scoring above the average scores across all categories on these same metrics. Again this confirms earlier findings of consumers interest in innovation and consumers’ need to enjoy it. While potentially the uncertainty score could be attributed to the category being perceived as an emerging category amongst some shoppers who may be currently uncertain about the layout etc.
For satisfaction, the presentation looked at what elements of the category consumers were satisfied with and identified areas consumers might like to see improvements. The key items that stood out where this category underperformed relative to the average across all categories were ‘identifying value’ (ie price comparison, tiering, etc), implying consumers being dissatisfied with being unable to see where good value is in the fixture. The layout was another area that stood out as an area consumers would like to see improvements made, suggesting consumers may need some support with the layout of the fixture in store. Interestingly Irishness, was more important to the shopper than the average category however, when it came to traceability, the category currently has a lower score than the average meaning there is still some work to be done in this area of provenance. While enjoyment for chilled ready meals displayed a significant over index relative to the average across all categories again highlighting how shoppers enjoy shopping this category.
In conclusion, Irish consumers purchasing chilled ready meals are quite engaged.
They are looking for innovation in terms of new products and this is something they want to see continued in this space. So what? Do you have an innovation pipeline to excite consumers with new and novel products?
Consumers want to enjoy shopping the category with less purchases described as grab and go relative to the average across all categories and respondents highlighting that authenticity and provenance of these products are important factors when making a purchase in this category. So what? Are you dialing up messaging around your brands/products’ authenticity and provenance?
In addition, corroborated by Kantar’s presentation, was the finding that when shopping in this category, consumers are not as price sensitive when making decisions. So what? Solely focusing on delivering a product in this category at a certain price point isn’t as important relative to other categories.
From a retailer’s perspective where this category can be done well will also help drive loyalty So what? How can your brand/products help drive loyalty for your existing and potential retail customers?
In order for Irish food and drink businesses operating in this space to succeed these factors should be considered and the above questions answered when formulating and executing marketing plans.
Intelligence. (2023). Chilled Ready Meals, 2023. Shopper Intelligence.