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2023 Grocery IQ Study: What Canadians really think about grocery shopping (part three)

Canadian Grocer’s annual national study delves into how Canadians view the grocery shopping experience
2023 Grocery IQ Study: Taking Stock of Grocery Shopper Attitudes and Behaviours
Illustration by Sébastien Thibault

To best serve shoppers, understanding what they want is essential. While that strategy might seem like a no-brainer, shoppers can be a tricky bunch whose needs and preferences seem to be always changing. What’s a grocer to do? To help, Canadian Grocer has once again teamed up with the research team at EnsembleIQ (Canadian Grocer’s parent) to bring you the 2023 Grocery IQ Study: Taking Stock of Grocery Shopper Attitudes and Behaviours. In this, our third-annual study, we surveyed 1,000 shoppers (primary and shared decision-makers) across Canada to shed light on how they size up the grocery shopping experience today and how they plan to shop in the future. 

Below are some highlights from the study. Read part one here and part two here.

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Health – people and planet

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Canadian shoppers consider themselves health-conscious, a figure that has remained unchanged from last year. As grocers seek to be a destination for shoppers’ health and wellness needs, an encouraging sign is that most shoppers indicate some level of satisfaction with their store’s healthy offerings, with just 10% expressing dissatisfaction. It’s also worth noting that of those shoppers that identified plant-based as an area of interest, 24% said they were not pleased with the plant-based food and beverages available at their store. 

The health of the planet is also a priority for many shoppers and the survey found that sentiments around sustainability are consistent with last year, with two-thirds of respondents indicating they would consider switching to a more sustainable grocery store. Of these shoppers, however, nearly half (48%) said they’re not willing to pay more for a more sustainable shop, while 41% indicated they’d be willing to pay “a bit” more.

Hungry for meal solutions

Grocers have been investing heavily in prepared foods for several years, but do shoppers have an appetite for the fare being served up? It seems they do. According to the survey, 63% of shoppers purchased prepared food at the grocery store in the past month and they purchased it, on average, 2.1 times. Compared to gen-Xers and boomers, millennials have an even more robust appetite for prepared food at grocery stores, purchasing it 3.3 times a month. Among those who didn’t grab any prepared foods, the reasons given were that “it’s too expensive” (49% vs. 37% a year ago) and that they “prefer home cooking” (44%). When considering purchasing prepared food, price is the most important factor for 67% of shoppers (up from 58% a year ago). 

When it comes to preferences, shoppers are equally split between prepared food types with 38% preferring grab-and-go refrigerated items and 37% opting for made-to-order fare. Twenty-five per cent have no preference. And while most consume prepared food at home, a notable shift is occurring with more shoppers reporting eating these meals at away-from-home locations, notably at work and in the store, reflecting a return to normal routines as Canadians move out of the pandemic era.

In their search for quick and easy ways to get meals on the table, shoppers expressed a healthy interest in meal kits. Almost half (48%) indicated they’d be extremely/very or somewhat likely to purchase meal kits if their store offered more of these solutions. However, almost one-third of shoppers aren’t aware if their primary grocery store even offers meal kits, so there’s an opportunity for grocers to up their game in this area and win more share of stomach. Food for thought!

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This article first appeared in Canadian Grocer’s February 2023 issue.

Overview and methodology

  • Survey sample: 1,000 grocery shoppers
  • Respondents were required to be age 18+, reside in Canada, shop at grocery stores at least once a month and are the primary or shared decision-maker for household grocery shopping
  • Quotas were established by province/ territory to accurately represent the population distribution of Canada
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