Increased Food and Beverage Events Represent Opportunity for Food Marketers

Food marketers have their work cut out for them when it comes to grabbing a portion of the consumer’s meal budget. Consumers are spending more time than ever before on buying and eating food. Targeting consumers as they begin to contemplate their next eating event is one way for marketers to grow market share.

The Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) regularly surveys Americans about their use of time. The most recently published statistics show that the average consumer spends 67 minutes every day on primary eating and another 23 minutes a day eating or drinking as a secondary activity – while they are engaged in another task such as watching TV. Marketers can capitalize on consumer interest in food by advertising to people who are contemplating the purchase of their next meal out or to those who spend the most in grocery stores.

Most consumers have 2 primary eating and drinking events daily. This is rounded out by a 0.8 secondary eating event and 1 secondary drinking event. Here’s a snapshot of where the consumption is taking place:

  • Own home or yard 67.5%
  • Workplace 12.8%
  • Restaurant/​bar 11.1%
  • Someone else’s home 3.9%
  • Other places 4.5%
  • While traveling 0.2%

On any given day, about 14% of U.S. adults enter a grocery store to buy food. The average visit lasts 44 minutes. While the percentage of men who grocery shop has been increasing, women still rule in this channel. About 10% of men buy groceries on an average day but 17% of women do so. The likelihood of grocery shopping increases with age. Roughly 8% of the 18–24 year-​old population can be found in a grocery store on  a typical day. This figure jumps to 15.8% for Seniors (age 65+).

For time of day consideration, marketers should know that about 45% of Americans are engaged in eating and drinking at 12 noon and 40% are likewise engaged at 6:00 p.m.. The noontime peak is nearly identical for both men and women. At dinnertime, slightly more women than men are engaged in primary eating at 6:00 p.m. Marketing food-​to-​go options or convenient lunch or dinner solutions is one way for food promoters to get noticed close to the time of a purchase event.

For the rest of the food dollar, marketers should be aiming to connect with the household members who are most likely to do the grocery shopping.

[Source: Hamrick, Karen et al. How Much Time Do American Spend on Food. Ers​.usda​.gov. November. 2011. Web. 8 Dec. 2011] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.