Drug chains looking to the future of the food category are likely to be putting more effort behind fresh products.
Shelf-stable foods, while still a part of the mix, are shrinking in importance to reflect changing consumer shopping habits. "The need to stock the pantry is lessening since food is everywhere," said June Jo Lee, VP strategic insights at the Hartman Group. "At the same time, customers say they want quicker in-and-out shopping experiences."
The myth of the "mom shopper" also is ending, Lee said. "Everyone is shopping for their own food." And they are frequently eating it on the go and alone.
Since consumers eat more meals on the go, the market has seen more blurring between retail and food-service channels. The barriers drug stores once saw to offering fresh and prepared foods have melted away, and more chains are adding grab-and-go food sections. Consumers are now accustomed to shopping multiple locations for food and show little resistance to purchasing fresh and prepared foods at a drug store as long as the choices are tempting.
The possibilities are many — and innovative chains keep exploring new ways to grab a bigger piece of the fast food dollar. "We think Duane Reade's UpMarket stores are fantastic," Lee said, of the format featuring frozen yogurt, sushi, soup, salads and juice bars. "Consumers say they can't believe they can get these products in a drug store."