Where to go with Food-To-Go
3 February 2016
Ruth Cousins, Marketing Executive
In light of the planned closure of two Tesco food-to-go stores in London, (Villiers Street and Philpot Lane) the effectiveness of what initially seemed to be an innovative and ambitious ‘blurring of the channels’ has come into question.
The Villiers street store that opened almost a year ago went beyond the usual food-to-go offering seen in popular Express and Metro stores. The store includes the ‘Burrito Kitchen’ serving breakfast wraps, burritos and nachos as an attempt to attract commuters and business workers in the local area. However Tesco have now announced that research has shown that their customers prefer a wider range of products.
The convenience industry has seen the food-to-go mission go from strength to strength in recent years, particularly in urban areas such as central London. The food-to-go shopper is most likely to be male, young free & single and shopping in a high street store. Time is becoming increasingly precious to these promiscuous shoppers.
Last year, the food-to-go mission in convenience was worth £4.8bn, we predict to see sizeable growth to £7.8bn by 2020. In theory, it makes perfect sense for convenience stores to expand their food-to-go offering, especially by adding foodservice operators to store as convenience has been seen to be losing out to such channels.
So why are shoppers less tempted by food-to-go only format stores over convenience stores? Louise Howarth, Insight Manager at him! commented, "When you look at people who are on a food-to-go mission in c-stores, the majority are using it as a convenience store as well. Shoppers we spoke to on the food-to-go mission in c-stores told us that a key importance for choosing that particular store was being able to ‘get everything I need here’. Therefore the choice in c-store as a source of food-to-go is influenced massively by whether the shopper uses the c-store of choice for other missions.”
26% of food-to-go shoppers we spoke to said range is the most important factor when deciding where to purchase their meal. She added: “Tesco have it right with their express and metro stores, there is an appropriate amount of store space dedicated to food-to-go and at the same time you can get cereals and snacks etc.”
Whilst differentiation is a great way of ensuring a store stands out in an increasingly oversaturated market, the essence of convenience should not be lost. Offering hot food-to-go and additional services can draw in shoppers but being mindful of the stores other main missions.