Emerging markets ready to embrace convenience of all kinds

26 October 2021 — Convenience is a significant consideration for the food industry, with modern consumers valuing every second of their precious time and seeking ways to fit worthwhile eating and drinking experiences into their busy lives. Innova’s #4 trend for 2021 - New Omnichannel Eating - reflects this, noting as it does the ongoing overlap of retail and foodservice markets with consumers’ desire to eat what they want, when and where they want it. Innova’s “Shifting Occasions,” one of its 2022 Top Ten Trends, further emphasizes this transformation in consumer eating habits.

A new Consumer Insider report from Innova Market Insights looks at consumer interest in and attitudes towards convenience in different parts of the world, assessing its relevance to product choice, shopping, home cooking and foodservice habits. In general, the research shows above-average interest in convenience concepts in Asia and Latin America, the regions where to date convenience trends have perhaps been a step or two behind those of the developed western world.

As well as wider interest in convenience as a whole, it seems that emerging markets are also catching up fast in terms of their tech-savvy populations and the role of technology in boosting convenience. Internet-active Asians and Latin Americans are now more ready to embrace online shopping and foodservice, with consumers in Continental Europe, notably France and Germany, least likely to adopt new technologies simply for the benefit of greater convenience.

Below-average response to convenience concepts among western populations perhaps owes much to consumers’ expectations of convenience in these areas. The availability of convenient, quick-cook, quick-eat and on-the-move products is such that consumers have moved beyond this as a single reason to purchase and are now expecting convenience+, i.e., convenient foods with extra value in terms of freshness, health benefits or ethical credentials. For example, John West’s latest addition to its range of convenient fish, Fridge Pots, is pink salmon with MSC certification, which voices claims regarding healthy omega-3 content. Meanwhile, ready meals and main dishes are also delivering more than simple convenience nowadays, e.g., Freshly’s delivered ready meals portfolio which includes healthy sub-brands such as Fit meals with protein, fiber and low carb levels.

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John West Fridge Pot Skinless And Boneless Pink Salmon (United Kingdom, Mar 2021) and Freshly Fit Lemony Mediterranean Chicken With Rice Broccoli Pilaf And Roasted Carrots (United States, Aug 2021).

COVID-19 has also played a significant role in shaping recent attitudes towards convenience. When consumers were asked why they shopped online, social distancing was the number one reason given in 2020. However, three of the next four reasons alluded to convenience, i.e., shopping at any time, the speed of shopping and being able to plan better. This suggests that many consumers who may have turned to online shopping during the pandemic are relishing the added convenience and are likely to maintain these new habits going forward. The foodservice category is following the same route map: just over half of all consumers said that they had visited restaurants less frequently in 2020, but more than a third had increased their use of delivered foodservice. This is again something that is expected to persist once the world opens up more.

The pandemic has also affected consumers’ cooking habits, with stay-at-home lifestyles prompting higher levels of scratch cooking. However, this is not to say that all convenience foods suffered as a result, with many consumers switching to semi-convenience. A total of 43% said they had been doing more home cooking using convenient solutions such as ready-made sauces. Meal kit subscription and delivery services have also been popular, with leading player HelloFresh reporting an increase from 4.2 million global subscribers in the year ending Q1 2020 to 7.3 million in the same period of the following year. Although many of these trends were already under way prior to the pandemic, it would certainly seem that the global health crisis has accelerated consumers’ shift towards convenience opportunities.

“Convenience: Regional Consumer Insights” is a new Consumer Insider report from Innova Market Insights. It looks at consumer interest in and attitudes towards convenience, with a specific focus on regional variations in opinion. It assesses consumer response to added convenience in product choices, shopping, home cooking and foodservice.

For further information, please contact:

Marielle Orr: press@innovami.com
Tel: +31 26 319 2000

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