Convenience Is Primary Driver For Today’s Consumers: Adapt And Prosper!

by Daniele Bianchini; Otis Spunkmeyer, Foodservice Director of Customer and Brand Marketing
Posted On: 4/9/2019

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   Daniele Bianchini
Today, consumers value convenience above all else. Convenience drives everything from how consumers get around and what activities they do, to where and what they eat. The latter especially has evolved from being complex and time-consuming, to something that can be done at the touch of a button.

The ability to order food online or via mobile apps has changed the way consumers eat. With convenience top of mind for consumers ordering in, it’s no surprise that they want this same level of convenience on-the-go. As a result, we’re continuing to see the quick-select foodservice industry – including vending and micromarket options as well as convenience stores – evolve. In looking ahead, we are likely to see this evolution occur in three ways:
1. Changing the definition of “fast” food
First and foremost, these quick-select outlets are growing their offerings to incorporate foods that are important to consumers, like "better-for-you" options. This change in consumer habit has ignited a change in the industry that has led to the transition from quick, “junk” food to quick, healthy options. As a result, food manufacturers are creating foods that maintain the same levels of convenience, like individually-packaged portions and ready-to-eat snacks and meals, while simultaneously offering consumers the better-for-you qualities they crave.
At Otis Spunkmeyer, we introduced our Grab ‘n’ Go portfolio specifically for convenience stores and other quick-select outlets to meet these consumer demands. We implemented our “No Funky Stuff” Promise, meaning all foods are made without high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils and artificial colors and flavors. Our mission was to create foods that vendors and consumers alike could feel good about. Through this evolution of defining what it means to provide “fast food,” we’ll see manufacturers introduce more healthy food products, while remaining convenient for the consumer.
2. Increased availability
As consumers continue to prioritize convenience, we’ll see this expansion within the c-store and convenience services footprint. In addition to the growing number of such locations within cosmopolitan markets, we will also see a wider variety of vending options available at public entities, such as school campuses and hospitals. We’ll likely see larger stores and shopping centers incorporate “convenience sections,” designating a portion of their store for consumers who are looking for on-the-go options. Because of this, we wanted our Grab ‘n’ Go portfolio sold exclusively at convenience stores nationwide. Similar to our convenience store portfolios, other food manufacturers have begun to follow suit and produce foods geared towards this market and the consumers that frequent it.
3. Elevating the experience
To meet consumer demand for high-quality products, these markets will implement more programs to enhance the quality of food offerings. For instance, vending manufacturers have been revisiting refrigerated machine design to allow them to offer a wider range of fresh foods. Secondly, at the c-store level, food manufacturers are working with store operators to develop in-store food production programs that offer fresh food to consumers. For years, Otis Spunkmeyer has implemented in-store Otis Spunkmeyer-branded ovens at convenience stores that offer consumers freshly baked cookies. C-stores that have these ovens use our freezer-to-oven and thaw-and-serve foodservice portfolios that are prepared in-store and served fresh to consumers. We’ve found that these offer consumers the elevated convenience experience they’re looking for.
The desire for convenience has changed the way consumers view food and will continue to be a major force in the foodservice market throughout 2019. Quick-select retailers are evolving to offer the same level of convenience to consumers in order to stay competitive. As we have seen so far, despite their small size, these “outlets” will play an increasingly large role in consumers’ lives. Convenience has become the new normal, and vendors within the industry have only just begun to adjust.

»» DANIELE BIANCHINI is Foodservice Director of Customer and Brand Marketing for Otis Spunkmeyer. She has more than 10 years of experience in the foodservice industry, having held roles in procurement, category management, customer consulting, category marketing and consumer marketing. At Otis Spunkmeyer, she is responsible for identifying trends and innovation to enhance, support and grow the brand’s customer marketing initiatives across several foodservice segments. She supports the sales team to build powerful, integrated go-to-marketing strategies to increase customer growth and loyalty.