What is Food-to-Go?
Food-to-go is defined as products that are ordered or bought at a counter and delivered with minimum customer service (ref: ahdb). The products are portable, single portions, designed for on-the-go consumption, meaning no food preparation or cooking is necessary.
Food-to-Go isn't just any category, it defines the entire personality and brand positioning for many retail organisations. Just think of Greggs FTG. Now compare your perception of Greggs with your perception of Costa. Very different, aren't they?
- It is one of the most important categories in food retail
- When it comes to launching new food products, many retailers rely on the immediacy and impulse nature of FTG
- What shoppers think of FTG influences their perceptions of the overall store and retail chain
In the context of supermarkets, for example, what shoppers think of Waitrose's Food-to-Go options and experience can, and does, influence their perceptions of the entire store offering. The same goes for Food-to-Go Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Sainsbury's, Asda and the rest.
My team and I have analysed shoppers and shopping in this category many times in most retail channels.
Food-to-Go on the rise
Despite the recent stay-at-home, work-from-home crisis, the FTG market is still thriving. It's making a speedy recovery and bouncing back as more and more people begin commuting to work, once again, needing breakfast on-the-go, convenient lunches and ready-made snacks.
The FTG industry is predicted incredible growth, according to IGD Retail Analysis, with an expected 35% growth in value in the 5 years between 2016 and 2021!
Primary Food-to-Go goals
- Increase the number of shoppers who visit the category
- Improve conversion rates (the numbers of shoppers visiting the category that buy)
- Drive up weights of sale, through providing the range of sub-categories shoppers really want
- Become a destination for FTG by optimising shopper perceptions of FTG in a given retail chain or channel
- The correct use of imagery signposting the category directly impacts category performance by as much as 14%
- Having the right layout in terms of sub-category adjacencies improves average weight of sale by more than 40%
- Getting the overall visual appeal of the category right increased visitor to purchase conversion rate from just 57% to 91%
- Average weekly visits to a shopper oriented FTG fixture is 3.2, compared with just 0.8 weekly visits to a less psychological appealing 'me for now' category.
FTG is the “hook” that will catch shoppers attention. It is essential that ALL aspects of the category are optimised so that shoppers don't just see the category, but engage with it, buy from it and it becomes their destination FTG solution. This means catering to not just your core demographics and target markets, but as many store visitors as possible.
Think of FTG from the perspective of Marginal Gains: many small improvements and shopper oriented enhancements will deliver a dramatically better FTG offering, not just for shoppers, but for retailers and brands too.