Food subscriptions – the mark of a new era of convenience?

How grocery retailers are responding to the consumer’s need for speed


When people are time-poor, they seek out convenience wherever possible. The most obvious way to try and inject some ease into daily routines is where food and eating is concerned. Major supermarkets have dominated with well-placed express versions of their larger stores for a number of years, leading a large amount of consumers away from the traditional ‘big shop’ to a style of food shopping centred on planning meals on a day-by-day basis. An increase in online grocery shopping also reflects an emerging consumer focus on time-saving and a willingness to embed technology into a typical daily routine.

The major grocers now have a new challenge, borne from ‘a need for speed’ – and that’s the threat of subscription meal packages, which vow to take time-consuming meal planning and even thinking about ingredients out of the process all together. Organisations like Hello Fresh and Gousto have seen a huge growth in demand, with Gousto boasting impressive growth plans aiming to be responsible for 400 million meals in UK homes by 2025.

Of course, there are also other threats that may change the market all together; like the Amazon Go food store recently launched in Seattle, as reported by Business Insider. The store has used technology to eradicate the checkout process and automatically charge customers based on the products in their basket as they walk out of the store.

So what will traditional grocery retailers do to champion convenience and remain relevant?

As a start, supermarket chain Morrisons has launched its rival subscription box service Eat Fresh, offering an alternative choice for new customers and an innovative solution for its loyal regulars.

Grocery retailers are also using well-positioned promotions, helping customers shop by meal in the well-known ‘two dine for £10’ style, made popular by M&S.

To make the most of their estate, retailers continue to expand by diversifying the products and services their customers can access in-store. In some cases, this can mean a trip to the supermarket can see you pick up some new shoes, have your hair cut and collect your prescription – what’s more convenient than that? To follow in this trend, Sainsbury’s recently announced a further range of ‘cult and premium brands’, with some stores recruiting specially trained beauty colleagues.

It’s not all doom and gloom for retailers in this space – it’s a huge opportunity to innovate and make the best use of powerful brands, in-store customer experience and provide a seamless customer journey to undermine newer rivals.

Talk to us to find out how we can help your business keep up.