Sandwich growth hinged on niche groups, report
to focus on niche age and ethnic markets in order to boost market
share, predicts a new Mintel report.
According to estimations made by Mintel at the end of 2007, the US sandwich industry is now worth more than $121bn - a massive market for product historically created to use up old meat and stale bread. However, Mintel predicts that the market will experience slow growth of 13 per cent over the 2007 to 2009 period - only half of the growth rate seen between 2004 and 2007. "Half of all consumers ate a sandwich, sub or wrap last week that was prepared away from their home. For any industry, this is a significant amount of market penetration," the report said. Therefore to harness the growth potential left in this food segment, the reports advises manufacturers to target specific age and ethnic groups. According to Mintel, sandwich companies in the US should first of all look to the younger generation, as 63 per cent of consumers surveyed in the 18 to 34 year-old group eat sandwiches at least every once every 30 days, compared to 51 per cent of the 35 to 64s and 42 per cent of the over 65s. To grab the attention of this core young adult audience, Mintel suggests using less traditional advertising techniques, as "young adults are increasingly wired and technologically savvy". Ideas touted by the analysts include internet and mobile phone campaigns, or providing free Wi-Fi access in sandwich shops. Certain ethnic groups are more likely to purchase the light lunch treat, and consumption amongst Blacks, Hispanic and Asians is higher than Whites, said Mintel. While only 51 per cent of white respondents said they eat sandwiches on a regular basis, this figure rises to 63 and 62 per cent for Hispanics and Asians respectively, Mintel said. Companies wishing to take advantage of the current market should aim to target these groups with 'ethnic' flavours, using non-traditional ingredients such as Mexican spices, the analysts suggest. Other important factors for manufacturers not are convenience of purchase, as 35 per cent of survey respondents said they shop for sandwiches close to home, and the potential for more premium products in the market. On the other side of the Atlantic, the situation is almost the reverse, as Mintel reported in 2007 that UK consumers spent a £4.1bn on sandwiches. The increase was a victory for manufacturers, the analysts said, as they had previously struggled to boost sales of £3.3bn (€4.7bn) in 2002. One of the major factors in the recent UK boost has been products targeted at consumers looking for healthy choices, while manufacturers have also successfully targeted the ethnic trends in the country, Mintel said.