How 210 Analytics keeps the Food Industry in front of shopping trends
The U.S. food retail industry is a $6.22 trillion market, with grocery stores totaling almost $682 billion in annual sales. Yet the margins are very small, with the average grocery store making about a penny on the dollar. Consequently, insights into buying trends and buyer intention is highly prized. That’s the kind of research 210 Analytics delivers as specialists in quantitative and qualitative research for the grocery and food retail industry. Prior to founding 210 Analytics, Anne-Marie Roerink served as the Director of Research for the Food Marketing Institute and before that as Director of Marketing and Research at the American Society of Travel Agents.
“We use Alchemer to learn about behaviors, motivators, and more,” says Anne-Marie. “Retailers, distributors, and manufacturers are all trying to better understand customers and what motivates them. With margins so tight, knowing who wants organic produce, grass-fed beef, a boost from algae protein or a fiber-rich product can make a huge difference in profitability.”
Finding the Right Panels Mix
210 Analytics often works with the Panels Team at Alchemer. “We field ten to fifteen surveys a year with a target audience of 1,500-2,000 consumers,” says Anne-Marie. “Typically we test the survey internally and with a few consumers, then we work with Wendy on the Panels Team to set quotas – geographic, age, economic, and other factors using Census balancing. Quotas may differ based on who we are looking for. For instance, a survey on cheese sauce may have a different mix than a survey about premium chocolate.”
The Panels Team then constantly adjusts the sample they distribute to fill the quotas. “We’ve found that lower income buckets tend to fill up before the higher income buckets,” Anne-Marie adds. “So Wendy rolls out the survey a bit at a time to balance the quotas and avoid having to find the needle in the haystack for the last couple of hundred respondents.”
Analyzing the Results with SPSS
“When our clients need to understand consumer behaviors and drivers, we export the results directly into SPSS for segmentation and deeper analysis,” Anne-Marie reports. “This saves us a lot of time compared with exporting to a .CSV file. With the direct SPSS export, Alchemer automatically defines and imports variable names, variable types, titles, and value labels in the .SAV format for SPSS. It’s clean and easy.”
SPSS is the industry standard for serious, in-depth statistical analysis. “Thinking ahead of the type of analysis required, I define the SPSS variable names while building the survey,” adds Anne-Marie. “That way everything exports cleanly and data coding and cleaning is minimal.”
When the research doesn’t demand in-depth analysis, 210 Analytics uses the Alchemer reports. “The Alchemer reports are great for higher level analysis, such as conference satisfaction surveys or quick feedback,” says Anne-Marie. “The cross-tabs and filters tools are quite intuitive and useful as well.”
Looking for an Edge
“It’s all about finding an edge and looking around the corner,” says Anne-Marie. Food trends change fast and often and staying on trend means greater relevance. This is especially true in claims like organic, low carb or gluten-free. “Grocers like to know who has an interest in organic in their areas and is willing to pay a little more. The organic shopper is currently a small slice of the population, but those foods are more profitable. However, nobody wants to throw out premium foods because their shoppers wouldn’t pay the premium price.”
“Our research helps our customers decide if they want to be in front of a trend, watching it, or letting it pass based on their customer demographics. We turn the research findings into in-depth multi-year tracking studies that are used all over the world. Typically, we launch studies at conferences to take the audience through the top-level results after which they can use the study to understand the benchmarks for their specific organizations. Over time, we started to see trends cut across departments, which helps to develop early base lines. For instance, behaviors that first popped up in frozen foods or produce will make their entrance in areas like meat, seafood or even candy months or years later.”
Most food-industry surveys are fielded away from food-based holidays, such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, and Halloween. “The holidays skew people’s answers,” says Anne-Marie. “For instance, think about how many more people eat turkey in November and December versus in the summer. However, during the pandemic, many long-standing food trends, from where to shop to what to buy changed, with an explosion in grocery e-commerce and activities like baking and scratch-cooking.”
About 210 Analytics
210 Analytics has extensive experience in quantitative and qualitative research, from questionnaire design, field control and execution, analysis, reporting, and presentation of actionable findings, with a specialization in grocery retailing. Projects cover both primary and secondary research, and vary from multi-month to single-day engagements on a wide range of topics. 210 Analytics helps clients make operational, financial and tactical decisions with greater confidence through research and data-centric marketing strategies.
To learn more about the Alchemer SPSS Integration, click here.
To learn more about the Alchemer Panels Team, click here.