Carol Wong-Li
Carol Wong-Li is Associate Director, Lifestyles and Leisure for Mintel. Carol researches and writes reports on the Canadian lifestyle and leisure industries.

The Quebec perspective: it’s not so bad

The centre of the grocery store gets a bit of a bad rap thanks to the adage: ‘shop at the perimeter if you want to shop healthier.’ Indeed, according to Mintel research, almost four in ten Canadians subscribe to this thinking, holding the sentiment that the centre of the store is mostly filled with ‘junk’ foods.

Quebecers are  much less likely to see shelf-stable products as unhealthy or processed

Having said this, Quebecers have a slightly different take to this area of the store, making them an ideal consumer group to target: less than three in ten consumers who reside in Quebec agree with the aforementioned sentiment, they are also much less likely to see shelf-stable products as unhealthy or processed. In other words, their overall impression of the centre-of-store itself and the products typically sold there are more positive. Further, their engagement with shelf-stables is seen with their greater likelihood to claim purchases of starch staples (pasta, rice or noodles) and packaged baked goods than the rest of Canada.

‘Don’t rush me’

Quebecers’ orientation towards food is likely informing their attitude towards such products. Specifically, this is an audience that is willing to take the time to eat proper meals, preferring to do so over grazing throughout the day. There is also a more holistic view to food itself, being the most likely to feel that food is the best medicine. In short, these attitudes translate into a consumer base that emphasizes eating wholesome meals. To this end, freshness of the individual components is a key consideration as Quebecers show less interest in stockpiling groceries, as well as a lesser inclination to report purchase of frozen produce or frozen meals or snacks.

Meeting Quebecers in the middle

Grocery retailers looking to promote their centre-of-store products to this audience will need to be mindful of these attitudes. Their approach to food is less about speedy refueling and meal replacement than it is about enjoyment and nutrition. Where quick convenience and nutrition on-the-go messages will resonate with the rest of the country, marketing efforts touting nutritional qualities and functional benefits will see greater traction amongst Quebecers. Given that their orientation to food centres around complete meals and traditional meal occasions, grocery retailers can better connect with this segment by presenting their products in this manner – both in their marketing materials, as well as in-store.

Carol Wong-Li is a Senior Lifestyle and Leisure Analyst at Mintel, researching and writing reports on the Canadian lifestyle and leisure industries. She has worked in market research and consulting for over 8 years both on the research and supplier side.