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Interesting new report out from The Hartman Group entitled "A Convenience Truth," in which the research company looks at how shoppers really define convenience.

What exactly do consumers mean by “convenience”, the Hartman Group asks. "Is it the thrill of finding an open parking space next to the store entrance or the ability to prepare, consume and tidy up after a completely nutritious meal in less time than it takes to read this sentence? And just what does saving time have to do with convenience? More to the point, what are consumers looking for when they say they value convenience?

"For its part, the food industry (broadly construed) has variously identified and solved the problem of convenience for us over and over again. We now enjoy convenient parking, convenient locations, convenience stores and, of course, convenience foods. Are these offerings really in step with today’s convenience-minded consumers?"

Some interesting statistical comparisons from the Hartman research:

• About two thirds (66%) of shoppers say that convenience is very if not extremely important, compared to 34 percent who say that a brand name is very or extremely important, and 73 percent say that low prices are critical.

• More than one out of every five consumers (23%) wouldn’t pay a cent extra for convenience food, but almost as many consumers (20%) would pay up to 5% extra for convenience food and even more consumers (30%) would be willing to pay as much as 10% extra.

KC's View:
Seems to me that a lot of folks on both the retail and manufacturing sides of the food business – myself included – probably define convenience in single-minded ways, but depending on who the customer is, the real value of convenience could have very different definitions. For some people it is about time, for others it is about effort. For still others – and I think this pretty much defines the next generation of shoppers – it means having what they want where they want it, how they ant it, when they want it, at a price they think is appropriate.

It is up to the marketer to dill down on his or her target shoppers - perfect shoppers, to steal the term used by Beau Fraser in our e-interview earlier this week and his book, "Death To All Sacred Cows."