Convenience is an integral part of everyday life

Convenience is an integral part of everyday life

The second "Convenience in Europe” study: how, when, where, and what do German, Austrian, and Swiss people eat and drink on the go?

Which products do consumers favour, where do they purchase these products, are these preferences linked to certain times of the day? Questions addressed by the “Convenience in Europe” study, carried out for the second time in 2009 at the Endowed Chair for Convenience & Marketing at the European Business School (EBS) in Oestrich-Winkel. The results reveal a wide range of occasions for on-the-go consumption. “The second Convenience Study set out to undertake even more detailed research on the basis of last year’s results,” explains Chair Holder Prof. Dr. Sabine Möller. “The first study in 2008 already supplied us with extensive information on convenience consumers and their motives. Our ‘Convenience in Europe’ study series offers suppliers of convenience products the opportunity to adapt better to the desires and needs of their customers. For example, the first study provided information on whether typical on-the-go consumers are male or female, tend to be young or old, and whether they live in the country or the city. In the second investigation, we wanted more precise knowledge of the occasions on which consumers eat and drink on the go, the products they buy, and when and where,” says Prof. Dr. Möller.  

The consumer types: When do consumers most enjoy eating and drinking on the go?

There is barely anything which determines eating and drinking behaviour as strongly as the time of day. Consequently, the results of the survey led to the differentiation of five consumer types, each of whom enjoy food and drink on the go in different situations in the course of the day. On working days, distinction can be made between the Early Eater, the Midday Muncher, and the Late Gourmet. “Breakfast is the most important time to eat and drink for the Early Eater, the Midday Muncher prefers lunchtime, while the Late Gourmet enjoys the evening the most,” says Prof. Dr. Möller, explaining the consumer types’ various preferences. The strict demarcations between mealtimes frequently become blurred in leisure time. However, the survey also revealed differences in free time: Purpose Eaters, above all, want to satisfy their hunger quickly and simply, while Social Eaters value a social and pleasurable environment when eating and drinking on the go. The importance consumers attach to the individual mealtimes, however, varies from country to country. Germans and Austrians, for example, have relatively similar preferences – with the Midday Muncher the most common type, closely followed by the Late Gourmet. In Switzerland, the Late Gourmet lies far behind the Midday Muncher. Early Eaters are more rare in Germany and Austria, while they can barely be found in Switzerland: only 14 percent of the Swiss state that breakfast is their most important mealtime. “This knowledge of mealtime preferences is of enormous significance to suppliers of convenience products. Our study shows a clear connection between the most important meal and the place it is consumed,” says Prof. Dr. Möller. “For example, people for whom breakfast is especially important predominantly spend this mealtime at home. They then tend to use the possibilities of on-the-go consumption for the less important mealtimes.”  

The products: what consumers most like to buy.

In the morning, consumers in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland have highly varying preferences with regard to drinks. The hot drink is indispensable in Germany. Regardless of whether they are Early Eaters, Midday Munchers, or Late Gourmets, over half of respondents dislike starting their day without a morning coffee or tea. By contrast, the situation is very different in Switzerland, where energy drinks are very popular at the start of the day. In terms of all three countries, chilled refreshing drinks, with 50.9 percent, are the absolute favourite in the morning. Regarding food, too, there are differences: while the filled roll is an unbeatable classic in the morning in Germany, with three-quarters of this country’s on-the-go citizens consuming one, not even two-thirds of consumers do so in Austria and Switzerland. The Swiss are vitamin-conscious and frequently also choose fruit. By contrast, the Austrians already reveal their preference for sweet foods at this early time of the day. Across the three countries, the filled roll, at 69.1 percent, nevertheless occupies first place amongst on-the-go consumers. In total, 42 percent of respondents in the three countries use the possibilities of on-the-go consumption on their way to work. At lunchtime, the citizens of the three countries investigated are “in agreement”. Amongst drinks, the chilled refreshing drink, chosen by 55.1 percent of respondents, occupies an undisputed top position. With regard to food, the filled roll scores points across all three countries: 55.7 percent of respondents choose the savoury snack at lunchtime. In total, 53 percent of respondents use the possibilities of on-the-go consumption in the middle of the day. An important time for on-the-go consumption is the evening: 47 percent of consumers state that they put in a stop on their way home in the evening at least once a week to buy food or drinks for immediate consumption. The most popular products in the evening barely differ from those preferred at lunchtime – here too, filled rolls (31.6 percent) and chilled refreshing drinks (45.2 percent) occupy first position across all three countries. But while consumers in Germany also enjoy buying something sweet in the evening, the Austrians and Swiss are more health-conscious. There, salad is the second most-popular product in the evening. For the first time, alcoholic drinks also play a role on the way home: 14 percent of consumers then enjoy buying a chilled alcoholic drink such as beer. Petrol station, kiosk, supermarket, or specialty store – convenience can be found in many places. The first Convenience Study showed that convenience is found in all channels: not just at the petrol station or the kiosk but also in the supermarket and specialty stores (baker/butcher). On the basis of this, the present study investigated which suppliers are most frequently called upon in which situations. The overall result of channel choice: when it comes to on-the-go consumption, consumers most frequently choose supermarkets, discounters, specialty stores (baker/butcher), or petrol stations. In the morning, a clear tendency for supermarkets, specialty stores, and petrol stations can be observed. Specialty stores, such as bakers and butchers, are popular at lunchtime, while in the evening, the supermarket, and also especially the discounter, becomes the preferred channel for on-the-go consumption. In leisure time, consumers favour channels where more time can be spent eating and drinking: restaurants, fast-food suppliers, and snack stands are in demand now. By contrast, petrol stations and kiosks are similarly popular during work time and leisure time and are thus representative suppliers of food and drink to go throughout the week. While 27 percent of respondents visit the petrol station on work days and 19 percent the kiosk, the figures in leisure time, at 25 percent and 17 percent respectively, are only slightly lower.  

Why eat and drink on the go? What drives consumers to on-the-go consumption in Europe?

Is it time pressure, joy, or perceived flexibility after all? The first convenience study already investigated which factors an inclination for on-the-go consumption amongst consumers is dependent on. Time pressure is frequently assumed to be the primary motive. The present study confirms this for Switzerland, although it is only the second strongest driver of on-the-go consumption in Germany and Austria. As last year, joy in on-the-go consumption is the most important determinant in Germany. Germans enjoy a snack or a coffee while on the go. “Joy” occupies only second place in Switzerland, while this motive is not one of the deciding drivers in Austria, where social acceptance has the strongest influence on the inclination for on-the-go consumption. What counts here is what friends and family think of on-the-go consumption. The current study also shows that the influence of perceived flexibility on the inclination for on-the-go consumption has weakened. It only still plays a decisive role in Austria, occupying third position. It thus follows that consumers are becoming accustomed to the ever-growing and omnipresent range of products for on-the-go consumption.  

Convenience at the European Business School: Chair and Competence Center

The Lekkerland endowed chair at the European Business School (EBS) in Oestrich-Winkel is the world’s first chair for convenience. It is held by marketing expert Prof. Dr. Sabine Möller, whose main activities include the scientific investigation of developments and trends in the convenience field. The Competence Center for Convenience, which Prof. Möller also directs, acts as an interface between research and practice and publishes the study. The advisory committee of the Competence Center includes scholars and representatives of renowned companies. The European Business School (EBS) is Germany’s oldest officially recognised private university for business studies, and is one of the top five business studies faculties in Germany.  

The Lekkerland Group in brief

Lekkerland supplies 134,000 petrol station shops, kiosks, convenience stores, fast-food chains, tobacconists, drinks stores, coffee shops, supermarkets, bakeries, and canteens in eleven European countries with a full range of sweet foods, drinks, snacks, convenience products, ice cream, frozen foods, fresh foods, tobacco products, telephone cards, and non-food products. In 2008, the company generated sales of €11.6 billion. Press photos on the convenience study for download can be found in our media centre.