September 27th, 2022

Episode #56

Dr. Sarah Marion Part 2

Justin had so much more to talk about to a past guest, Dr. Sarah Marion - the Director of Syndicated Research at Murphy Research.  She was kind enough to give us, and YOU some more time to dive into some of the data that makes Justin Smile!!!

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Special Guest

Dr. Sarah Marion

Sarah Marion, Director of Syndicated Research, joins Murphy Research with experience in both syndicated and custom research. With a background in cultural anthropology, Sarah excels in triangulating between different types of data, connecting the dots to build compelling stories from primary qualitative and quantitative research and secondary sources. Before joining Murphy Research, she led The Hartman Group’s syndicated research program, and she has special expertise in food and beverage, CPG, health and wellness, sustainability, the natural and organic market, and shopper insights. Sarah has led a wide variety of projects, but has special expertise in qualitative methods, longitudinal trackers, and trends research. She holds a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Indiana University.

Episode Transcript

 Justin Girouard  00:18

Welcome back to another episode of CPG insiders. We are extremely excited for today's guest. We gotten to so many fantastic topics and we just had to dive in more. So we're going to talk to Dr. Sarah Marion. Now for those of you who were with us last episode, you already know who Dr. Sarah is before any new listeners, Dr. Sarah Marion is the director of syndicated research at Murphy research. She leads Murphy research at state of our health syndicated tracker. Now, this tracker is the largest ongoing food and fitness tracker in the US. So the the information, the data that she gets on consumers and how they are, how they're acting, how they're how they're purchasing food products, specifically, and then all the biometric data that goes out with their activity. It's phenomenal. So we had to have her back. We're super excited to get into it. So let's jump into the episode.  Awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming back, Sarah. The first episode was incredible. We've gotten so much out of it. We have so many people that love the show. So we we had to have you back. So thank you so much for coming back with us.


Sarah Marion  01:34

You're very welcome. I'm very pleased to come back.


Justin Girouard  01:38

That's fantastic. So So today, what we wanted to talk about was a lot of how internet shopping habits have changed. And and as it directly relates to a lot of what we talked about last, our last show with consumer health, their meal sourcing habits, even even how mindfulness, maybe it's playing a part in this, is there, more intentionality, things like that. So just to kind of kick it off. What are you seeing so far in the internet shopping habits? What's going on? What are consumers doing right now?


Sarah Marion  02:16

Yeah, so we measure internet shopping at a at a really high level. So both in have you shopped for groceries at an online retailer, in the past three months? And then also, how important are various types of mobile options and online options to you when you're selecting where you go shop? So do you want delivery? Are you looking for online ordering? Do you want mobile payment, that kind of thing. And what we've seen is that I mean, that was growing before, right? But like so many other things, the pandemic really accelerated that trend. And I think so early on, you know, the grocery store was a scary place, you're gonna die if you went and so make sense that a lot of people in those first few months of the pandemic across all demographics, we're looking into this new thing. But I think what really happened is that key to that acceleration was that because it was so scared to go to the grocery store, a lot of people gave online grocery shopping a shot that never would have gotten involved otherwise, particularly older people, boomers. And then women had always lag behind men in terms of online shopping, too. I think part of that is because women are more likely to be the main shopper of the household, feel more responsibility over making sure that the need is right the produce, you know, that's what he we hear people say they want to make, they want to pick their own things. But also they just like to go shopping. And that's true. That's true across all demographics. But you see it also more from boomers in terms of their barriers to trying online shopping. So now, a lot of people tried it that would otherwise never have tried it. And I think a lot of people who've been watching this space have been waiting for this because once you start doing online grocery shopping, once you get over that first trip becomes really easy after that, it's kind of becomes kind of a sticky habit. But it does cost more. And so the big question, what we've been wondering is would these people go back to their old habits? And the answer is kind of yes and no. So definitely across all age groups across men and women, more people are looking for those online and mobile options when they're choosing a store now than they were pre pandemic. And it's higher among younger people than older people still. And so so that's the yes, it's that it did bring a lot more people into this space. And a lot of those habits stuck at the same time. A lot of those older consumers in particular boomers, but also to a certain extent Gen X. We now see them going up and down with waves of the virus. So a lot of them picked it up through 2020 and then starting in q1 2021 When the vaccines came out, they weren't back to the store in person. And so the online and mobile ordering those things cease to be as important to them. And so you see them pop back up again last winter when we had another big surge. But that's not true at all for younger consumers. So millennials in particular, who we should, I think it's always important to say Millennials are now not the kids, they're the oldest are my age, which is 41. So 26 to 41. Those are millennials, these are working families they're. They got little kids. They're still, certainly many of them are young. But if you're thinking of prime age working busy adults with families, I'm thinking about millennials, they've continued to climb the there has not been a ceiling yet on how important those things are in selecting the retailer. And this, I think, is a big deal, because it means that now that habit is really stuck for them, and that more and more and more are jumping onto that bandwagon. And that means also that it's a trend that's going to carry through time.


Justin Girouard  05:53

Absolutely. Are, are you seeing that there are any particular categories, product categories, that's having more impact on others.


Sarah Marion  06:05

So our data doesn't go that deep, I can give you some like anecdotal and kind of rotative view. I think it's so we know that for online shopping, is typically consumers use that for the fill in trip. So it's items they always buy. But it's not the big stock up trip.


Justin Girouard  06:28



Sarah Marion  06:28

Because that becomes kind of unwieldy to do online. But it's also, and sometimes it's picking up just a few items. But depending on all of the fees or whatever, there's a trip where that cost benefit ratio works out. And I know that in my household and for other people that I that I know that trip is the it's the midweek trip when you're out of a bunch of regular staples, but you need to have them. And it's like maybe four bags worth. Yep, and you don't want to go, you're tired, you don't want to go after work. That's the busiest time of the week to go to the store, the lines are long, the parking is bad, you have to drive in rush hour traffic, which is now back to regular levels. So way easier to just order that all the items are already pre populated in your list because you buy them all the time. Just takes a few minutes. And so now we do that every week. And I know a lot of other people who do too, sometimes multiple times a week.


Justin Girouard  07:24

Uh huh. Yep. Well, I mean, as as you're seeing Walmart plus it's coming out now Amazon has opened even more DCs for foods start doing delivery, it is it is here to stay. They're not going anywhere. So one of the questions that I was wondering, because you mentioned in a little bit earlier about the reasons why consumers did like to go shop, which some people it is an event. I mean, I have an eighty year old aunt who this is like one of the biggest things she used to do, you know, hey, this is this is great, you know, going into hair salon, like these are the things I put on the calendar, right? So outside of those, you talked about people who like to pick out their own vegetables, their own meats. So how do you think. Has that comfort changed? Because you're saying that more and more of the younger crowd are buying it. So it is something that you're seeing that people are just, they're over it, they've had a good enough experience every once in a while they're like, Okay, I trust it enough.


Sarah Marion  08:25

I think it has, especially for again, a certain type of trip. Now, and then, when it doesn't, I think that consumers save, we know that they when they're shopping, like I need a lot of meat for the week, or I need a lot of produce for a week. That's when they go in person. But I think they're willing to buy a few things again for this, like fill in trip that are acceptable for somebody else to get and you're willing to accept like a wider range of quality. Because that still is a problem for online shopping for sure. And we hear about it qualitatively. And you know, if you've done it you know about it personally, I have we order broccoli a lot. And every time we get broccolini instead.


Justin Girouard  09:15

Oh yeah. Oh, I know, my, my, my my wife takes care of the online shopping. I prefer I'm still an old geezer here I'm like, no, I'm going to the store. I'm I'm touching it like I'm buying it that's just that's still me. I haven't gotten over that when it comes to food other categories. Totally fine with shopping online prefer it. But when it comes to food, nope. I still want to be in person.


Sarah Marion  09:36

I think there's also a comfort level that is different by age. And so that become like touching and feeling and picking your own becomes much more important for older consumers. They're more likely to feel like they have a lot of knowledge around that kind of thing. What's the best product to get whereas the younger you are, you've like just in terms of years you have not been shopping for As long as and so whether you have less knowledge or simply like, don't care quite as much about getting the perfect tomato, it's more reasonable for somebody else to pick that out for you.


Justin Girouard  10:11

Yeah, no that that that makes sense. So I'm, I'm curious to has this shift and online shopping changed, if you have the data on this, change the food choices people are making, has that changed at all?


Sarah Marion  10:25

I think it does, yes. Similar to what we were just chatting about offline, it makes people more intentional. So again, a lot of this is qualitative. But when we talk to people about how they shop online, they prefer it or they save money, because they're not buying those extra impulse purchases, they're more planful, about the list. So that encourages them to sit down and think about what they're actually going to eat. Because you have to then go search for all those products...


Justin Girouard  10:53



Sarah Marion  10:53

...rather than just walking through the store and having the products suggest themselves to you. And then also, so fewer impulse purchases, which really has an impact on those front of store categories and things in the cache line. Or the checkout line, rather, spend less money. More intentional. You also have, depending on where you're shopping, you can have fewer choices, especially things that are specials that week, or things like I like fancy artisan bread, that never shows up online, I have to go get that in person. So there's these categories, a lot of times in the fresh and specials, but also categories like alcohol. So my, we have a Safeway at some local Safeway called Hagen down the road that has a huge wine selection. But on Instacart, the wines are only the most basic, like mass market grocery store wines. So there's a lot of things like that, that you're just not going to be able to buy if you're shopping online.


Justin Girouard  11:54

Interesting. So. So as you're talking about here, what this seems to me is this is putting a ton of pressure on emerging brands then actually going after a younger segment.


Sarah Marion  12:11



Justin Girouard  12:12

Because the whole concept of making the list has become even harder.


Sarah Marion  12:17

Yes, yeah. And there's fewer spaces for you to show your brand.


Justin Girouard  12:21



Sarah Marion  12:22

In, in store, certainly, if you're including online as in store now.


Justin Girouard  12:28

I mean, you have to. Right? I mean, you have to, it sounds like to me that brands have to shift their perception of what we call in store now, especially for that younger segment, if you're going after the millennials of the world, if that's your consumer, that's your target, then you need to understand that even your whole concept of brand awareness and your conversion tactics, your trade marketing that you're used to being able to great, I can throw that bogo out there, and I know that I'm gonna get that spike, you know, the for the last few weeks. Well, that's changing because they're buying an instacart. They're not even seeing it.


Sarah Marion  13:05

Yes, exactly.


Justin Girouard  13:07

So now you have to have this kind of dual pack, dual task, if you wil.


Sarah Marion  13:12

You're also depending on where again, like Are you shopping on Instacart? Are you shopping, say the stores online ordering and delivery? You're not seeing the sales.


Justin Girouard  13:22



Sarah Marion  13:23

So that's going to change how you shop too, because we know that people pick up a lot of impulse purchases when they're on sale.


Justin Girouard  13:29

Oh, absolutely. And if...


Sarah Marion  13:30

That's the point of it.


Justin Girouard  13:32

That's the whole point is, Did you know that as the brand spike the ball, hey, make up some points. And and you're not going to get that impact, or you can't depend on that impact, as as much when you're talking your sales projections. And also, if you are in a, if you're in a more of a commodity type category, that you really rely on those, you're in a lot of trouble.


Sarah Marion  13:55

Yes, I agree. And it's this, the online shopping world opens up this much larger landscape that you need a really thorough understanding of and it goes like platform by platform, right? Because that's in store now you need to know what the user experience is like, you know, how do consumers actually see and select products? Is your are your products coming through when they filter versus search? And then even in terms of how they're presented is are they presented in a way that people can understand and look at the front and the back and see all of the all of the work that you've gone into in terms of claims and ingredient lists and what's on the package?


Justin Girouard  14:39

Well, yea.


Sarah Marion  14:39

And I think Additionally, a lot so like Instacart for instance, gives you suggestions. So our products being suggested to the right kind of people? I had an order a few weeks ago, we've been having some rough times as a family and so I was alone with the kids. I put them to bed and I just wanted a glass of wine and some chocolate but we didn't have any. So I ordered from instacart like two bottles of white wine, bananas because we needed them, and then some cookies for myself. And then what it suggested to me was, Oh, do you want a handle of bourbon and some energy drinks? No, no, I don't. But if it would have suggested ice cream or chocolate or chocolate bars to me, I would might have added those into my cart. So you want to see like, are you even coming up for the right type of consumer? Because there's an opportunity there for those impulse purchases, but if the algorithm or whatever it is, that is kind of determining what I see, isn't working in that way, then out of luck.


Justin Girouard  15:44

Oh, yeah. Oh, abs. Absolutely. I mean, the and the other. The other aspect that just came to me now is as brands are approaching their, their branding assets or their packaging development. So in the past, especially when retail brick and mortar was was the way how you would do a lot of your last assessments from a competitive standpoint would be at shelf take it in there, see how it looks like under the lights.


Sarah Marion  15:44

Yeah, look at he set.


Justin Girouard  15:48

 Right? The sets changed.


Sarah Marion  15:50



Justin Girouard  15:50

Now you have to consider how it looks through an Instacart lens or through an Amazon. Okay, so how is it going to appear digitally? Because again, that's my conversion point as well. And it's becoming it as you said, it's growing. So what would you say, because for the, as we talked about, like the younger consumers, those millennials of the world that this is growing in. Do you have any concept of where the prevalence of formals you say, just broad strokes of online versus in store? I mean, is in store still the Goliath? And online is the rising, David? Is that the best way to look at it?


Sarah Marion  16:53

Yes, I think most people still would say they do most of their shopping in store. If you're, you know, having them make a percentage of it, there is some blurriness there and that. I think that so our data in terms of how many people have, say they've shopped online for groceries in the past three months, has not changed over the past two years. And what that tells me is that they're shopping their regular retailers. And so when we ask them that they think, Oh, well, I was buying from Safeway. So it doesn't, there's some there's a lot of blurriness and how you think about and how we ask consumers that. Because if you're shopping from Instacart, you're still shopping at a store. And it's probably the store you usually shop at. So yeah, so that tells me they're shopping their usual stores, they're just doing it with a variety of methods in person delivery, and online, or pickup rather. Sorry, to go back to your original question, which was?


Justin Girouard  17:57

Which was just you know, as we're talking so much to the province of online, I just wanted to put it in the right perspective. So is brick and mortar still, you know, again, as I put it before the Goliath and online is, is the the rising David, so it's still fuller. So but it is growing? So don't ignore it. Don't. Don't get too afraid. If you haven't done anything yet. It's okay brick and mortar still where most of your sales are going to be. But you need to start paying attention if you're not.


Sarah Marion  18:28

Right, yeah, you need to jump on that bandwagon. Because you're already late to the party. If you have not figured out how your consumers are shopping online, they do so in stores still the bulk of most people shopping, because it's very common for people to enjoy grocery shopping, you know, regardless of how old they are. And I think one of the key things that makes online shopping more prevalent for younger consumers, aside from being more online anyway, is that it solves a problem that people like your aunt and boomers and retired folks don't have which is the just the time problem. So going to the store all the time, when you are a busy working person with a family is an inconvenience, but for other people, it's like the high point of the week. And so there you're solving a problem that other people don't have. What we do see though is that this means that consumers can choose what's which times they go shopping in person because they still like to browse they still want to go pick out you know the best fruit this week. I don't trust the my Instacart shopper to like, you know, tell me what's good this week, in terms of how the oranges look or whatever. And so that means that you can save your in person trip for that longer, more relaxed experiential trip. That's usually the stock up but that's when also you get to browse around and see things which means that if you're a retailer, you need to be prepared to care to both of those occasions, right? It needs to be easy to find all those things for the online shoppers. But you also want your store to feel good to come to, when consumers do choose to come in person, because they're going to have larger baskets. They're going to be looking for deals, they're going to be looking for new, interesting brands. That's that kind of a trip that they're coming in store for.


Justin Girouard  20:22

Interesting. So based on that, that concept, and then this is off the wall, and you probably is completely going to be anecdotal on your part, I would say, is there going to be? Do you think anyway, for the in store shopper, is there going to be more pressure from just the consumer side, to do more promotion in order to win me, because I'm there for my stock up. So I'm spending more money. So I'm assuming that if that's the I'm just trying to look at the data, if I'm going to spend more money than and I know, because I've made this giant list, and I'm already thinking about the dollars I'm going to spend, then, if I didn't make the list, is the only way to try to make the list is going to be to show me the value to show me how I can save because I'm unconsciously thinking about the amount of money I'm spending because I'm not going in for a couple of things.


Sarah Marion  21:20

Right. That's a great question. I think that when people are going in for the stock up, because that's the trip where they browse, because that's the trip where they're, you know, they're choosing between deals and prices and brands. They're much more likely to make impulse purchases, then. Now, that varies depending on your income level. But if we're talking about middle class consumers that are have enough money to buy two things. Because there if buy one get one 50%, then yes. I think that, um, I don't know that consumers will expect more in terms of sales, partly because I think, again, shopping online does come with additional costs, one of which is that you frequently don't get the in store discounts, again, depending on what platform you're using. But I think there there should be additional pressure to highlight new brands to highlight meal solutions, you know, the things that retailers have long done, but in ways that get their attention. And that is I think that could be a challenge. Because if you're arranging your store for kind of the functionality of an Instacart shopper, that's a completely different arrangements, then for the experiential aspect, the browsing the looking for surprising and delighting things that consumers want when they come in.


Justin Girouard  22:53

Interesting. Are you seeing any any in correlation between, as you mentioned before income level and these different shopping trends? Because I think you've made an interesting point there.


Sarah Marion  23:03

You know, I have not looked into that in detail. I can though, we have all that data. So if you want I can get back to you.


Justin Girouard  23:11

Yeah, no, I'm just very curious. Because as you said, I mean, you made a great point that your online shopper is paying more. Because they're paying for this service, they're not getting the deals. So in turn, they're probably paying more at time for products. So is that and now that, you know, for the most part the world has opened up. Do we have some of those consumers that were in that lower income segment that were doing the online shopping and a necessity? Are those even if they're younger, have they gone back to the store? Because there is a financial potentially, you know, there they perceive it as a financial benefit. Because of those things.


Sarah Marion  23:52

Yeah, that's a great question. So I've done work on low income shoppers in the past is pre pandemic, right. So everything has been all scrambled. And I'm happy to look in and like give you a a post, post show point of view with some with some key stats, but um, online shopping really, again, is correlated with age. So the younger you are, regardless of income level, you're more likely to be doing that. And I and as we discussed, there are ways that you can make that work for your budget because it makes you more intentional with your and you stick to the list better. And low income shoppers are always trying to stick to the list. But at the same time, they also want to get the lowest prices because they have to and what I found is that lower income shoppers are really savvy and knowledgeable about the sales cycles of all of the food retailers around them. And so they shop a variety of stores according to those sale cycles. It's like really impressive, they're very resourceful with holding a lot of stuff in their brain. And then of course, if you like coupons and that, you know, only adds to that, but those the the reliance on those sales cycles would I think probably diminish your chance for wanting to shop online because again, you're not getting them. And you're having to do having to shop a variety of stores for yourself for your, the products that you want. It's a good question, though. And I know you've got my, my brain running it, I'll go check it out and see see what it looks like now.


Justin Girouard  25:43

Absolutely, I would I would love to hear because, you know, we also I mean, in in, there's been a, you know, as the the kind of connection point is now you've seen, there's been a lot of apps that have come out that are kind of in that space. So like your Ibotta's of the world, right? Yeah, that came out and I and their stock, I believe anyway, you might have information on this, of the how they're starting to change. So it's kind of like that intersection of the digital shopping experience, but still in store and and how has has, I don't know if you have any information on how they'll that side of it has impacted consumers and the way they approach their shopping journey.


Sarah Marion  26:24

That's a great question. I don't have any data on that. I mean, my my personal point of view, my educated guess would be that the savviness, that you see that I just mentioned around knowing all the sales cycle of and how to get the best price would transfer into that. So probably for a younger, low income consumer, they're interested in all those apps, they're using them to do the same thing that older consumers were just keeping track in their head or on a piece of paper, you know, in their coupon books.


Justin Girouard  26:52



Sarah Marion  26:53

Same same behavior, same goal in the end, so only now you can do it all from your phone. Now you need a new resources.


Justin Girouard  27:02

It's amazing. So, so with these changing shopping habits, I guess, you know, we've talked a lot, we've talked about a lot of great stuff. What would you say that the brands need to understand. So if there are three things, three takeaways for an emerging brand going into and then we talked a lot about the food space, what do you think the three things that they need to take away, or they need to understand and plan against moving forward for success?


Sarah Marion  27:34

Well, you need to definitely incorporate online into your, you know, marketing mix. And you need to, again, thoroughly understand the platform's where your consumers might encounter your product, so that you can make sure that it's coming up in the right ways, and it's being shown in the right ways. You can't just put it out there into the store and expect that to be enough. Because it's not Nope. And at the same time, when you put it out there into the store, you might need to do a little bit more work to help catch consumers attention when they are on that experiential shopping trip.


Justin Girouard  28:14

Mm hmm. Yep.


Sarah Marion  28:16

Which, which means, you know, working with you're working with retailers, you know, get the right kind of shelf space, or to make sure that you're getting set up on end caps or special displays the kinds of things that we know, catch consumers attention when they're wandering around.


Justin Girouard  28:29



Sarah Marion  28:31

 I think that because online shopping involves so much search and filter, you need to think really carefully about how consumers can search and filter for your category. The same way that you you know, if you were putting it online, it's just SEO kind of information, right? Does this come up? If this is aligned with bakery, does it come up when people click bakery? Or does it come up somewhere else? In natural organic, right, because sometimes those are separated.


Justin Girouard  29:03

Very, no, absolutely. And also, they need to be I'm assuming, and they need to start paying attention to the the keywords that you didn't think of.


Sarah Marion  29:15



Justin Girouard  29:15

The connections that you wouldn't make, but that consumers are.


Sarah Marion  29:19



Justin Girouard  29:20

That happens all the time. Just like your example earlier. Right? That might not have been something ice cream and ice cream brand might not have thought to add to the search volume or be added to that that particular shopping cart and it's like yeah, that's what consumers are looking for that.


Sarah Marion  29:37

 Yeah, I that's a great point. You know, to level up you need to understand how the algorithms work, essentially. And what kind of consumer are you aiming for? What kind of trip do you think you belong in? Do you belong in the handle of bourbon? Or do you belong in the wine and cookies trip?


Justin Girouard  29:56

No, I and I think


Sarah Marion  29:59

or what kind of consumer that's probably easier to identify a fear. Because they're that data is kind of collected on the way in. So if you're if you know that your shopper is a 41 year old female, like me have an idea of your kind of ideal consumer persona and see if you can work that into how the algorithm works.


Justin Girouard  30:25

I guess, but I think you've made a good point, though, that, that I think the in the definition of the shopping trip has now changed.


Sarah Marion  30:36



Justin Girouard  30:37

And brands need to start paying attention to that. So the shopping trip, there are multiple shopping trips now. And because of the convenience of online, as you talked about these fill in orders, or these, we'll call them impulse situational orders of the wine and chocolate at times. And then the your, your, your know, your fall restocking trips, you have the potential to be in all of these depending on your product and your category. So you need to start learning about depending on the outlet you're trying to drive towards, depending on the retailer that you have product category that you have, what is the shopping trip that aligned with that retailer for my product? And I need to message against that, in that environment. I think that's I think that's something that's very important for for brands to take away right now. Isn't the message that you might have your display at Walmart is going to have to be a different message than you have on Instacart or the Walmart plus, because it's a different trip. It's a different situation. So you need to communicate it properly. If you're really going to connect with the consumer.


Sarah Marion  31:52

Yes, yeah. Completely.


Justin Girouard  31:54

Wow. It's awesome.


Sarah Marion  31:56

It's really granular.


Justin Girouard  31:58

It is absolutely it has to be. And I think you said you brought up a lot of great things about you have to understand the consumer, you have to understand the consumer situation, you have to understand the product category, you have to understand the platform's how they work, how they function. So as you said, it's the the the consumer journey has changed forever. And brands need to understand that they need to change how they approach it. And they need to have custom solutions for all of these environments. It cannot be a one size fits all, because it doesn't work that way anymore.


Sarah Marion  32:33

Nope, and it's only this trend is only accelerating.


Justin Girouard  32:38



Sarah Marion  32:38

Especially because it's younger consumers and they have not stopped that we have Gen Z coming up behind who are basically, you know, the same as millennials in terms of what they want from online.


Justin Girouard  32:50

Well, and now I mean, what we haven't even touched on is going to be the next kind of advancement that I think we see coming in the shopping journey, which is going to be the VR world. How does that impact it now? Because that is that's going to change it dramatically. I don't think we know how unless you have any information. I'd love for you to break it now. Break it, but it's coming.


Sarah Marion  33:16

It is it is coming and I am excited to see it. We also cover to this same dataset covers fitness too and VR is hot news and fitness. Oh, again, Brave New World.


Justin Girouard  33:32

It is yeah, it is it is a brave new world. But that's that's that's a that's another topic that of course I could go on for ages with you. So, again, Sarah, thank you so much for coming back. And I would just want to say is there anything that you want to leave our audience with any other last message? Any other last thoughts? That that you didn't get to share on the show that you wanted to?


Sarah Marion  33:53

 Question? I I mean, we didn't touch on meal sourcing, but it definitely is part and parcel of this trend.


Justin Girouard  34:01

Yeah. Talk about it. We've got a few minutes. Let's talk about it.


Sarah Marion  34:04

Okay. Okay. So we have also seen a changed landscape in terms of meal sourcing. And this is a again, at a really high level. We asked how often consumers cook at home, eat frozen meals, get packaged fresh meals from grocery or dine out, or get takeaway. And what we saw beginning the pandemic, people stopped dining out, takeaway went up. So kind of replaced that to a certain extent, but it was really different by gender. So women stopped dining out right away. Men like took six months and then kind of stopped and basically started again. And then in the meantime, to make up for that little gap they had and dining out men increased all of their other types of what we call outsourcing which includes both CPG and restaurant, so they increase their consumption of frozen meals increased their consumption of packaged fresh, increased dining or increased takeout and delivery and then eventually came back to dining out. Whereas women didn't do that women cooked at home more. And so that made up all of the gap there. And they still have not gone back to restaurants. So they're not dining out at the same level as they were pre pandemic, even though it's definitely gone up. Whereas men are. And so what that tells me is that the value equation around dining out is totally different now for women than it was pre pandemic. There is this, like in terms of what they're considering. When they're thinking about do I dine out? Do I get takeaway, whatever it is, the time, the energy, the money, all of those considerations are different now.


Justin Girouard  35:55

Interesting. So....


Sarah Marion  35:57

Which is great news for CPG. Because they're still cooking at home, they found solutions, and they're sticking with them. It's been a long time now.


Justin Girouard  36:01

Oh, and no, it's fantastic for CPG, especially considering, as you talked about earlier, that it's still that the trend has not shift, when the women of the household are their primary shoppers.


Sarah Marion  36:15

 And cooks usually too.


Justin Girouard  36:16

And cooks usually. So you're holding on to essentially the primary consumer, you need to hold on to for your business.


Sarah Marion  36:23

Right. And so that means that they have developed new established routines and habits around meals at home that didn't exist before. And then I like to as a kind of informal survey, I like to ask people when I meet them and my friends, what is a meal that you used to eat out a lot that you don't anymore?


Justin Girouard  36:43



Sarah Marion  36:44

And for people who work, it's almost always lunch, who used to eat lunch out when you went to the office. But uh, but for a lot of people I know with kids, it's breakfast. So we used to go out for breakfast a lot on the weekends. We don't do that anymore. It's just as easy to make pancakes and eggs at home. And it's way cheaper.


Justin Girouard  37:02

Way cheaper way. I mean, my wife just went out to eat dinner last night, for the first time we couldn't even remember because we just cook at home. We were like, wow, we just spent 80 bucks for a couple burgers. And I was like, man, I can make a better one at home.


Sarah Marion  37:16

See exactly. And that one, once you learned how to do that, you know, I like I like margaritas, I never made one before I learned how to make them during the pandemic. And now I don't want to pay that much anymore.


Justin Girouard  37:28

Is there is there any information as far as now any more details into these new habits for the women that have held on to the to cooking at home is there anything around they are, you know, doing more recipe based work from scratch versus meal solutions or anything like that?


Sarah Marion  37:50

We know this is mostly qualitative, but we have information about planning to it. So people are planning more. And a lot of younger folks, millennials in particular, again, double down on health. So they actually as a generation have gotten healthier, at least in terms of their own estimation, through the pandemic. And what again, what we see that means in terms of food in particular is they are they plan they're more intentional about their choices. So again, with the list about their meals, we see more people planning their meals. Dinner is always the most planned meal, but lunch and breakfast too. So setting yourself up for success down the line. And of course that changes your your shopping behaviors too. And I think that online shopping is part of that. So fewer chances to bring in the types of products that then you feel bad eating later, right, which tend to be impulse products, I should not neglect to mention that for men, again, frozen meals and packaged fresh. They're eating those at higher frequency rates than pre pandemic too. So for them, also the landscape of meal sourcing has changed in that they're sourcing more of their meals more frequently from other places. What this tells me is that they really don't want to cook at home. Actually


Justin Girouard  39:14

They got lazier. That's what's going on.


Sarah Marion  39:18

They brought in a lot of other things to cover, like a gap that was really small to begin with. And that that was just interesting to me. Because over and over when you talk to people about health and wellness, one of the biggest things they say they could do or would like to do is to cook at home more. And now we know that given the opportunity is a great opportunity. Only women do that. This is speaking very generally. I'm sure many men took the chance to cook at home. But now we know that when men say that well, we can still offer you a frozen meal that will clearly do the job for you. So there's good news for CPG in there too among men.


Justin Girouard  40:00

That's that's still why I think that you've seen it again, anecdotally, with the rise in the subscription meal services that have happened, there's been a huge rise and that there's so many brands that broke into the scene. And and I think, as you can tell by most of the messaging, it's very male driven.


Sarah Marion  40:18

It is. Yeah. And they're much more likely to, to adopt them.


Justin Girouard  40:23

Yeah, absolutely. No, that that makes it makes a ton of sense. So would it be fair to say then that this, that the shift, not only from a meal sourcing being on the female side, it's going to be more advantageous target for you is what it sounds like as a brand. Because they're the ones that are more cooking at home? Are you seeing and they're more health conscious? So are we seeing that across the board and their food choices too that that health conscious is still taking over? Essentially, it's beating out convenience that yes, they are making the sacrifice of buying, you know, better for you foods over the easier foods these days?


Sarah Marion  41:02

That's a good question. For women in particular, we see convenience, taste and health. They fluctuate a lot more than for men. And it's but it's seasonal. So busy, and it's very intuitive, right. So spring and early summer, people really get a little bit more engaged in health, they're looking for a fresher, healthier things, taste becomes a little bit less important. Whereas convenience really picks up in the fall, and then again, after the holidays. So the holidays get busy. And then people need to rest from cooking. And women are much more subject to those ups and downs than men. And I think it's because they are the main cook and shopper more right more often than not.


Justin Girouard  41:52

The ones doing the work. Yeah, so they're more impacted. But that's, that's great information. And for our brands, as we shifted over, they need to pay attention to these seasons, they need to understand depending on what their product is, you know, where where the hot buttons are in your communication. And when to really, when and how to communicate them, especially to this target audience. I mean, it sounds like it is, if your target audience is male and your food product, then convenience is really it. I mean, they just want something that's easy and fits whatever their goal is.


Sarah Marion  42:30

Right? Right has the right seals on it that tells them Oh, high protein, whatever, you know, fits with whatever my nutritional requirements are.


Justin Girouard  42:39

Right. Very easy, very simple. Just tell me what it is I'm looking for. And then it's easy, and then you got a shot. Other than that, it's going to be a little bit of a struggle. Ya know, that that makes a ton of sense. and is and is there any difference, and that females segment between mothers and and as a single women, like there's a major difference?


Sarah Marion  43:01

 I, you know, I haven't looked into you know, single moms versus moms, in partnerships. But single moms are always more pressed for time. And I will say that moms, even moms versus dads are more likely to say that, like time and energy are barriers for them.  So convenience is definitely a seller. And I think part of what women have learned to do through the pandemic is combined the whatever kind of fresh cooking, they're looking for with convenient other options, and then emergency meals. So more more thought and planning and stalking around the easy things to make when you just need to get a meal on the table. Because if you're a mom, if you have kids, you have to get a meal on the table.


Justin Girouard  43:22

Right. That makes sense.


Sarah Marion  43:23

It's something that single people or people without kids don't have to do as much. And that you know, can mean frozen pizza. But the better it is, in terms of better for you. I think the more compelling it is as an option up to a certain price point. Because you're got a family are also looking for quality and quantity. In a ratio.


Justin Girouard  44:15

Yeah. So if you're if you're if you're a food brand, and you're and you're wanting to target parents, then if you can find a way to communicate it as that healthy hack for lack of better term, then you've gotta we gotta we got a winning strategy.


Sarah Marion  44:34

Because the quick, easy and healthy.


Justin Girouard  44:38

I mean.


Sarah Marion  44:39

That's a winner.


Justin Girouard  44:40

And as long as the kids will eat it, you know.


Sarah Marion  44:42

Right that's a great point. I forgot to put that in. If you're talking about parents, these need to be things that would ideally appeal to the whole family...


Justin Girouard  44:56



Sarah Marion  44:57

....which can be difficult


Justin Girouard  44:58

Which can be very difficult. And that's what I was curious about in some of the segments that are possibly more premium or possibly more sophisticated, for lack of a better term and their flavor profile. It seems like because convenience and time is such a pressure for all these parents, that previous messaging of treating yourself, so making a meal for yourself, and then making the meal for the kids may be more difficult right now to actually succeed.


Sarah Marion  45:27

I think so because part of part of what we heard around how routines had changed during the pandemic, in terms of cooking was, people had more time to eat family dinners, in particular, and they liked it, they do not want to give up those family dinners. Knowing that as we move back into more normal social schedule, some of those will be sacrificed. But the family dinner was a really positive outcome for a lot of parents. And so yeah, the making the two separate meals still happens, like, not gonna, not gonna lie. But it's so much easier to make one meal. And when a lot of parents do, just as a day to day basis, make modular things. And so products that serve that can like, work within this modular idea, say like, tacos are great modular meal. You can have yours this way, you can have yours with just cheese, you can have yours with, you know, onions, if you want, everybody gets their own meal. But it's all relatively easy to prepare. Breakfast is a modular meal too. That's why it's so easy to make. But the fast, like the emergency dinner, like solutions that make that easy to customize, are more useful to parents than like one big bag of you know, frozen dinner that, you know, somebody might like somebody might not like. It's a risk.


Justin Girouard  46:56

Yeah. And I assume meal time, especially dinner for parents all about risk mitigation.


Sarah Marion  47:02

Yes. Yeah. Balancing like how much nutrition versus how much whining. Versus how much you want to enjoy it. And that's, those are hard things. I mean, it's a hard thing for parents, it's challenging for food companies to come up with solutions for that.


Justin Girouard  47:18

Absolutely. Wow. No, this is this is any anything. Anything else on the on meal source? And this has been fantastic. Anything, any other topics?


Sarah Marion  47:29

Well, I could go on for days about topics, but I know we have limited time.


Justin Girouard  47:35

Absolutely. No, I appreciate that. I mean, this has been fantastic. Again, takeaways. On meal sourcing side. Women are, they are cooking more than men. Men are very functional and just want the easy meal. And if you can find that intersection of healthy and convenient than home run, and that's where everyone, parents included, Hey, make it convenient. But mom's the one that's doing all the shopping, she's doing most of the cooking. So that's where you have to talk to and she is cooking. So she is cooking guys. So that is a good thing. Her her her value system. When we're talking about the balance of convenience, taste and health, it's going to change with the season. So pay attention to that make sure you are you're modifying your communication appropriately to wherever the season is because that's where their values are going to shift if you are really want to take advantage.


Sarah Marion  48:30

Yes, I will say that millennial men, if we're talking about parents, they're shopping a lot more than dads of previous generations. So you don't want to totally leave them out of the equation. But in terms of like the family meal frequently looking for the same things. They're not going to go searching for a new brand, necessarily, they're going to grab the thing that we always buy.


Justin Girouard  48:53

And that's something we communicate to our clients constantly is, is if that is who you're going after that what you just said it is very difficult. It is so much easier for a parent to buy what they know the kids like and ate before then to try something new. So you have to win them over. That is a tough battle. It's possible, but you have to understand that that is that's the risk that they have to choose to try something else which after working all day all week, and then trying to get to dinner and the last thing you want to deal with is complaining you just want to get through and feed them, keep them happy


Sarah Marion  49:28

Yep. And the emergency meal is not a meal where you want complaints. It's much easier for you to sell single entrees because you can be exciting with the flavors. But just sell a family meal like my mom calls it bag o'meal. But a thing like a pizza or salad kit or any of these frozen dinner solutions to get the value and the size and the quality that a family wants and that adult and child flavor component. You can't get crazy with your flavors.


Justin Girouard  50:06

No, no. But I think to your point, what you said earlier is if you can find a way to communicate to the consumers that this is a modular meal, maybe some things I didn't think about before, but here's how you can customize it for the kids to love it and for you to love it at the same time.


Sarah Marion  50:22

Yeah, that could be two sauces.


Justin Girouard  50:24

Right? Who knows? Who knows, right? Or just add this add more cheese and the kids are gonna love it for you, you add more pesto or whatever. And then boom, there you go. Just you know, something like that. And your communication, showing the versatility of the product. Again, going back to a risk mitigation, but also, we're not forgetting about the parents. We still want them to eat something good.


Sarah Marion  50:45



Justin Girouard  50:46

Something to look out for in the food space.


Sarah Marion  50:48

They are the buyers.


Justin Girouard  50:49

They right. They are the buyers. So you've got to pay attention. Wow. Well, again, thank you, Sarah. I know I've taken a ton of your time. I really appreciate coming back. I'm sure the audience has loved everything.  Again, any last minute. Things you want to say any last thoughts before we we close it out?


Sarah Marion  51:11

Not that wouldn't open up a whole new conversation. Let's call it let's call it good.


Justin Girouard  51:16

That means you have to have you back again.


Sarah Marion  51:18

I wouldn't mind that.


Justin Girouard  51:19

Oh man, that's the worst. Well, again, thank you so much, sir, for your time, this has been a fantastic show. And again, we are going to have all of Sarah's information in the show notes. So if you want to get a hold of her Murphy research will have her LinkedIn email. We'll have all of that. So please reach out to Sarah if you have any other questions. And as always, you can reach out to Mark or myself here at Jekyll and Hyde. We love talking to new brands, new clients. It's totally free. Love to answer any questions that you have. So you can email us or reach out to us to J& Please go to iTunes and leave us a five star review. We'd love hearing your feedback. And also it really helps us reach more people and help more brands. That's what we want to do. So again, thank you so much for listening today and have a great day.


Mark Young  52:08

If you're looking to greatly increase sales on your CPG product, don't hesitate to contact us at Jekyll and Hyde advertising and marketing. By the way, the only advertising agency with a guaranteed result just go to Jekyll Hyde Or feel free to give us a call at 800-500-4210