Are meal planning services a missed opportunity for brands and stores?
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from the bi-monthly e-zine, CPGmatters.
Digital storytelling and branded content are becoming increasingly important to major CPG companies such as Coca-Cola and Tyson Foods as more American consumers — starved for time, seeking expertise and craving convenience — are turning to mobile apps to help with their in-store grocery shopping and online recipes to help them put meals on the table.
“The path to purchase is changing,” John Carroll, who recently retired as VP and general manager for e-commerce for Coca-Cola North America, told CPGmatters. “Shoppers used to get the printed circular on Thursday, make a shopping list, go to the store, visit end caps — but now all of that is digitally enabled. More than 60 percent of food and beverage purchases are digitally influenced. For instance, consumers plan for meals within an app while simultaneously making purchases.”
Coca-Cola, for example, has leveraged sites such as eMeals that cater to digitally enhanced consumers, offering suggested “pairings” of its products, with recipes conceived and suggested by eMeals. The curated ideas inspire meal planning.
“We’re doing that in a way that can contextually highlight a brand’s products,” eMeals’ CEO Forrest Collier told CPGmatters. “It’s not in your face as yesterday’s print-magazine ads did, but, ‘Here’s a set of recipes that are the kinds you asked for. Here’s a string of paleo recipes, for instance, and here are products that fit that purpose.’ Or gluten-free recipes.
“It’s a real benefit to the time-starved consumer who wants help to get there because dinner happens every night,” he said.
Many meal plan subscription services offer ways for consumers to consummate purchases with retailers for pickup or delivery as another level of convenience. For brands, meal plan services offer ways to delivery branded content or promotions relevant to meal occasions, including promoting a new product with which consumers aren’t yet familiar.
Mr. Carroll, who now is a consultant and head of Creative Commerce Solutions, said, “We’ve never been able before to combine planning and recommendations for meals with the shopping experience at the same time. That’s what’s fascinating and what is changing about the path to purchase.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Where are the obvious and less obvious opportunities for grocers and their vendor partners to leverage meal planning services?