BOSTON -- New England consumers will wait longer in line to be served at an in-store deli than they will at a supermarket bakery, according to findings of a consumer purchasing survey sponsored by the New England Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association.
Women generally will wait longer on deli lines than men, the survey found.
These and other preliminary findings of how consumers shop the deli, bakery and dairy departments of supermarkets were presented by Dr. David Rogers, president of DSR Marketing Systems, which conducted the survey. He presented the findings at an NEDDA seminar here last week.
The full results of the telephone poll of 504 New Englanders taken prior to Thanksgiving is expected to be released sometime next month.
Seventy-five percent of the participants were female, with a median age of 47. Their median household income was $32,500, with average household size of 2.7.
On average, the respondents said they would be willing to wait up to 5.2 minutes for service at the deli and only 3.9 minutes at the bakery. Of the female respondents, the average length of time they would wait for the deli is 5.4 minutes, compared with only 4.7 minutes for men. For the bakery, both men and women said they would wait an average of 3.9 minutes.
It seems impatience can run quite high on bakery lines, with 33% of respondents saying they would wait only two minutes or less for service. Only 13% of the respondents said they would leave the deli if they were not waited on within that same period of time.
Other statistics were more promising for the bakery: 13% of the respondents said they shopped the bakery more often than they did last year, with only 11% making fewer purchases.
In deli, 13% of the respondents said they shopped the service deli less frequently, compared with only 11% who said they shopped it more often.
Rogers believes that finding could suggest the service deli is probably more mature in New England than the service bakery.
He recommended that deli operators might increase sales by trying to "sell more to the deli customers you already have than hoping to attract more people to the service delis."
In answer to how to do that, the survey included a question on what improvements consumers would like to see in the service deli.
The No. 1 improvement they cited is faster service or more help behind the counter. That was followed by a desire for low prices, more variety, the elimination of presliced meats, and more low-fat products, respectively.
The consumers were also asked if they made a deli or bakery purchase at a supermarket within the last 14 days. Fifty-eight percent said they made a deli purchase at their primary supermarket, with 2% making a purchase at a secondary supermarket. Forty-nine percent said they bought a bakery item at their primary supermarket, with 3% making a bakery purchase at a secondary supermarket.
Rogers believes those findings indicate that both the deli and bakery are significant factors people consider when deciding where to shop.
"As you can see, the vast majority of those buying at a service deli or service bakery said they did so at their main supermarket," said Rogers. "I think that one of the more obvious implications here is that the service bakery or service deli must be playing a significant role in where they choose to make their primary store."
Regarding the frequency of purchase, 44% of the respondents said they purchase something at the deli on a weekly basis, with 17% buying something at least twice a week.
Thirty-eight percent of the respondents shop the bakery once a week and 14% more often than that.
When shopping the service deli, 63% will check in-store specials and 26% said they always try samples. At the bakery, 50% said they always check in-store specials and 31% said they always try samples.
Of the dairy shoppers, 41% said they preferred to buy branded products, while 33% preferred store brands. Twenty-seven percent cited no preference.
As far as nutrition content, 53% of the respondents cited fats as their No. 1 concern in the foods they buy. That was followed by cholesterol with 21% concerned, salt at 17%, and sugar at 6%. But not everybody is reading labels according to the survey -- 37% of the participants said they had no nutritional concerns.
As part of the survey participants were asked if they ever shop club stores. Twenty-three percent said they shopped a club store within the past four weeks.
During that last trip, 39% said they purchased at least one dairy product. Thirty-nine percent said they shopped at the service bakery and 20% made a purchase at the service deli. Thirty-six percent said they purchased an item at the self-service bakery, and 19% at the self-service deli. The consumers who were from Massachusetts, Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont were also asked to name their primary supermarket. Stop & Shop was cited 24% of the time, followed by Shaw's with 14%, and Shop & Save/Sun and Market Basket/ DeMoulas both tied at 9%.
Others rounding out the list included Big Y, Edwards/Finast and Star Market, each with 4%, and Purity Supreme and Waldbaum with 3% each.