Food To Go is an area of the market that’s really taking off. A third of the UK population enter shops and quick service food retailers with the sole purpose of buying food to eat on the go every week. On average they spend £411 a year on this food, with 86% of consumers making repeat purchases.
These consumers have created a booming area of growth, which means that more eating-on-the-move consumption occasions exist than ever before. Street food is everywhere, while pop-up restaurants and high street outlets all offer the latest on-trend meals and snacks.
Understanding the Food To Go market
We wanted to know everything we could about the Food To Go shopper: their wants, unmet needs, habits, loves and bug bears, and where we could find a genuine way to add value to this already proliferating category. So we spent time walking in their shoes, immersing ourselves in the lives of real people to truly get a feel for what Food To Go meant to them and how it fitted into their lives.
We got on trains with commuters, we went to work with professionals, we joined working parents and their families, and spent time travelling with a man in a van!
Looking for global trends
We also bought every type of food designed to be eaten on the go from big stores, independent shops and road-side kiosks. We pulled products and packaging apart and ate as much as we could to really get to grips with the offering.
We travelled far and wide to make sure that we didn’t miss anything – from London to Leeds, Manchester, Paris and New York. The most exciting and innovative place we visited? Manchester. Its vibrant food scene is leading the way in exciting food, street markets and pop-ups.
Our travels, tasting, testing and journeys with consumers gave us consumer centric insights and inspiration from which to develop market-leading plans and products for this category. And because everybody is a Food To Go consumer, everyone at Natures Way has become really enthusiastic about this part of our journey.
Rolling out new products
These experiences yielded rich and powerful insights – and identified a clear gap in this sector. Consumers told us that what they really wanted was to eat fresh, filling and healthy food on the go at any time of the day. Something a market focused on sandwiches, wraps and pasta didn’t genuinely offer.
Consumers wanted lighter food that was filling and salads that were crisp, fresh and appealing. They wanted flavours that were interesting, but low risk enough to reassure them that they wouldn’t be wasting money on something they might not like. Walking in the shoes of the consumer taught us that breakfast time for one is lunch time for another and that understanding the consumer mission was crucial. To meet these needs we had to branch out from simply creating a ‘salad to go,’ into creating a fresh, healthy offering that is appetising all day.
Our shopping experiences also told us that not only are consumers protein-hungry but they have a real desire for the added flavour and texture of nuts. So as well as entering a new category we also added nuts as a new ingredient to our product mix. Technically it’s been a tough call but we’ve cracked it because it’s what the consumer wants.
After months of insight gathering and consumer research, in spring 2015 we proudly launched a range of Food To Go products for Tesco: