Walk into the majority of supermarkets and convenience stores in the country and you’ll more often than not see a delicatessen counter in one form or another. Given the deli's standing as an almost omnipresent fixture, it’s easy to infer its importance to retailers.
However, as behaviour evolves and focus shifts amongst shoppers, are they serving current customer needs, or are they catering to the needs of the past? Empathy Research conducted a nationally representative survey of adults aged 18+ (n=1,002) on behalf of Retail Intelligence to understand these very questions.
Given that 39% of all adults 18+ claim to use a deli counter at least once week for either hot or cold food of some description, their popularity is clear to see. Significant differences are evident between gender and age in terms of frequency of use, with 50% of males using them once a week vs. 30% of females. Elsewhere, 49% of 18-24’s use a deli once a week or more often, with frequency declining as age increases.
However, while there is widespread usage in evidence, future usage and purchase behaviour may not be as strong for the deli counter as one may expect. 38% of all adults claim they are using the deli counter less frequently than they were six months ago, with only 10% claiming they are using more frequently than they had been in this time period. This leaves an overall net position of -28% usage in the past six months. The biggest net reductions in usage are amongst females (-32%) and those aged between 45+ (-35%).
Looking at the key motivations for a reduction in usage levels, there is evidence of a healthier mindset among shoppers playing a role. 60% of those who claim they are using the deli counter less frequently in the last six months are citing "I'm trying to eat healthier these days" as a motivation, coupled with 52% who are "preparing food at home and buying less food in this way". A third (33%) feel the food on offer in the deli counter is "over-processed and not good for you". All three aspects rank ahead of price or value as a deterrent at the deli counter.
The changing mindset of the deli counter consumer is further endorsed by the fact that 56% of all adults do not feel that deli counters are providing them with enough healthy options to meet their everyday needs. 71% of 18-24’s feel this is the case and given their high levels of usage seen earlier, their future purchase frequency at the deli counter may be in serious danger of decline. For this group, the hot roll (chicken fillet or similar) is the most likely purchase from the deli counter (71%), suggesting there may be work to do for retailers to change the conversation with this group and demonstrate to them the healthier options that are available.
For further information and more in-depth analysis on the usage and attitudes of shoppers towards deli counters, please contact Robbie Clarke at Empathy Research.
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