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NPD: Convenience Drives Daily Food Choices

CHICAGO -- As straightforward as the concept of convenience may seem, it is more complicated to define when it comes to Americans making food choices, according to a recent study by The NPD Group.

NPD found 72 million adult consumers -- nearly one in three adults -- are "Convenience Consumers," but their needs are varied depending on their life stage and other characteristics.

According to the NPD report, "The Many Facets of Convenience," convenience consumers, who attitudinally place a premium on convenience, tend to fall into one or more of the following groups: younger adults, males, singles who have never been married, single-member households, working parents, parents with a young child (age five or younger) or lower-income households. Convenience consumers feel their lives are hectic and rushed and that a dinner taking more than 30 minutes to make is inconvenient. While they believe convenient foods are more expensive, less healthy and don't taste as good, they also indicate "convenience is worth paying for."

The NPD report found convenience consumers differ attitudinally from other consumers in many ways, but are similar in some regards: two-thirds of them -- on par with other consumers -- said they enjoy cooking. Plus, like other adults, the majority of convenience consumers plan meals ahead of time.

"Convenience has been a buzz word in the food and beverage industry for a long time, but we found through our research it's really not a one-size-fits-all concept," said Ann Hanson, director of product development in NPD's food and beverage unit. "Americans differ in how they define and value convenience. It's important that food and beverage marketers differentiate the various meanings of convenience among their consumers and message accordingly, or they'll miss the target."

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