Winning with food-to-go

Date : 18 July 2016


I recently wrote about the importance of understanding how shopper missions are changing. One of the key changes we have seen is the growing popularity of food-to-go. Four in ten shoppers claim to have bought food-to-go in the last month, up from a third last year.

Growing food-to-go

% of all shoppers buying food-to-go in last month




Base: all grocery shoppers, March’16

Shopping around

Shoppers are now spoilt for choice when it comes to satisfying their on-the go needs. Many of the shoppers I met recently like Claire, a mum with a husband and two small children in Sutton Coldfield, were shopping around more to meet their meal time on-the-go needs.

“I go to a number of different stores such as Morrisons, Tesco, the large and small ones, and Asda for food-to-go. It’s wherever I am.”

Convenience top for food-to-go

Convenience used most for food-to-go




Base: all grocery shoppers, March’16. Arrows denote changes compared to 2015

Shoppers are voting with their feet and increasingly visiting convenience stores for food-to-go. Convenience is not only the top food and grocery channel used for this mission, it also has the highest claimed purchasing frequency.

Highest c-store food-to-go frequency

  • Men
  • Under 35s
  • Those with children
  • Living in London

Satisfaction divide

Within the convenience channel, convenience multiples are seen to be ahead of other types of c-store for all aspects of the food-to-go offer, particularly for quality, food range and product availability.

The satisfaction divide

% extremely or very satisfied for food-to-go




Base: all supermarket and c-store shoppers conducting a food-to-go mission in last week, March’16

However, despite being used more often for food-to-go, there is more to do to satisfy c-store food-to-go shoppers.

The convenience channel, largely made up of stores under 3,000 sq ft, should, in theory, be at an advantage in helping shoppers to complete their food-to-go shop as quickly as possible. However, the store layout of some convenience stores does not appear to help some shoppers.

Fewer shoppers find it easy to locate the aisle they need in a convenience store when they are conducting a food-to-go shop. Some shoppers complain to me about the food-to-go range being located at the back of the store or in an aisle they rarely visit.

Improving the food-to-go offer

The good news is that more than eight in ten (83%) c-store shoppers could be encouraged to buy more food-to-go at their main c-store, rising to around nine in ten under 35s and families.

Their top priorities apart from pricing and promotions include improving the choice and quality of the food-to-go:

  1. Better prices
  2. Better promotions
  3. More choice
  4. New and interesting products
  5. Better quality
  6. Healthier
  7. Fresher

“There is always a nice variety of ham, chicken, cheese, tuna sandwiches. It would be good if there is a yoghurt and some pre-cut fruit thrown in as part of the meal deal. It would be healthier.” Female, young family, Barnet.

What this means for convenience

Is your product innovation strategy catering for increased demand for on-the-go solutions? Do you understand the key food-to-go trends and what you can learn from food-to-go specialists?

How are you adding value for food-to-go beyond price? To what extent are you able to tailor your message to appeal to different c-store segments and to the demographics of the local catchment area?

The store layout of some convenience stores does not appear to help shoppers. Are you helping shoppers to complete their food-to-go mission as quickly as possible?

Click here for more information on our Food-to-Go Conference 2017.