Competition for consumers’ food dollars has never been more intense. Today’s food landscape is dotted with a bevy of traditional supermarkets, discounters, dollar stores, and online grocers. And that’s just the segment of food retailers. As consumers gravitate to prepared food options, restaurants are grabbing a greater share of their food spend.

Simply operating a store in the traditional sense is no longer enough for today’s operators. Now more than ever, it’s imperative that food professionals truly know the shopping habits and preferences of today’s consumers. And there’s one group in particular that can play a big role in the success of your fresh departments: the aptly named “superconsumer.”


What are superconsumers and why are they important?  

As defined by the International Dairy Deli Bakery Association (IDDBA), a superconsumer is an individual who over-indexes in volume, sales, and profit, and has passion for a product. In any given category, they comprise 10 percent of shoppers who drive between 30 percent and 70 percent of sales.

These engaged and insightful consumers:

·          Eagerly look for new products;

·          Pay price premiums;

·          Shop the category frequently;

·          Have above-average category knowledge.;

·          Are more open to marketing messages; and

·          Can articulate and anticipate latent demand.

We can target these individuals by focusing on their missions. They will seek out and willingly spend on specific food items. As defined by our research, a ‘mission’ is a distinct bundle of benefits for which you can design and co-create different concepts for how to meet these benefits in very different ways. Concepts, therefore, are based on unmet needs of the mission. When applied to a retail food environment, this theory could impact the layout of the store, the assortment, the value, or the pricing model. Keep in mind that when it comes to superconsumers, food retailers are competing with foodservice. More and more foodservice providers offer online ordering and delivery, another consideration when helping

 superconsumers fulfill their missions.


The donut superconsumer

As an example of how to connect with superconsumers in your fresh departments, let’s first look at buying habits of donut shoppers. Donuts are a popular food item, with 75 million households in the United States consuming them. Of these consumers, 60 percent purchase them from a restaurant or grocery store. Many of these purchases are not random; they’re “missions,” whereby a customer is purposely seeking a donut (or donuts) to satisfy a particular need. This could be a craving for an indulgent snack, or perhaps a larger purchase of numerous donuts for a group gathering or event. The concept of a “mission” is an important consideration for in-store bakeries looking to capitalize on this trend, as it’s the first step in assessing the variety and packaging of their offerings. For example, consumers looking to buy a large number and variety of donuts to treat a group of people at work or a family event might be drawn to easy-to-carry packaging containing a selection of icings and flavors. This “group buy” conveys an image of a “sweet and convenient group snack,” which in turn will position your store as a “go-to” destination in the minds of these consumers.

In addition to other considerations when it comes to engaging donut superconsumers are:

•              Implementing concepts that meet consumer needs. For example, offering donut holes in convenient snack-size cups for consumers looking to satisfy a craving while they shop.

•              Competing against food service in consumer-decision categories where neither channel dominates, such as to “satisfy craving/emotional need;” “reward self/others;” “fulfill request;” and “routine.”

•              Focusing on peak purchasing times, which could include afternoons. For these times, hassle-free, less wait time, and more variety can connect with consumers seeking a break or coming home from school or work.

•              Paying close attention to buying patterns at restaurants, which reveal that weekend sales are greater than during the week.

We touched upon the importance of convenience and availability for the donut superconsumer, but also crucial are value and quality. When conducting our superconsumer research, we found that 35 percent of respondents said they did not buy donuts at supermarkets because of lesser quality compared to stand-alone donut shops and restaurants. It’s a statistic that retailers should take to heart: it’s vital to deliver high quality along with the other sought-after product traits.


The superconsumer in the deli: a focus on cheese

Let’s now look at how to engage superconsumers of cheese, a segment that generates $1.7 billion in sales in the in-store deli department. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that 95 million U.S. households eat cheese, with 75 percent of households consuming cheese purchased from grocery or a restaurant. A notable percentage of these sales are driven by superconsumers. Cheese foodservice superconsmers represent 7 percent of all households, yet they are responsible for 28 percent of spending related to cheese or any cheese-related food available at food service. On the grocery side, 10 percent of superconsumer households drive 34 percent of grocery cheese sales.

For this group of superconsumers, their missions are wide-ranging. Some might forgo convenience and enjoy the experience of browsing a cheese selection, while others might be in a hurry or need to find a quick addition to their children’s lunch sandwiches. Depending on the circumstance, here are a few strategies for connecting with these superconsumers:

To connect with consumers looking to satisfy a craving, try something new, or try something healthier, consider offering cheese and meat snack packs that deliver convenience and ease-of-consumption.

For consumers with limited time or those looking to take advantage of sale, consider meal kits that deliver quality, variety, and ease of pick-up and preparation.

To win missions targeted at immediate consumption, look to apps and digital offerings with rewards programs and pre-ordering opportunities.

Vying for a bigger percentage of a consumer’s food spend can be challenging in the constantly-changing dynamics of today’s retail food landscape. However, identifying the shopping habits of superconsumers can give fresh departments the edge in connecting with this important shopper segment.

Learn more about superconsumers in IDDBA’s latest research, The Superconsumer Opportunity in Dairy, Deli, and Bakery, by visiting