The shifts in consumer purchasing patterns in the food and beverage industry are more widespread than anyone thought, so no matter what food you are marketing these trends are virtually impossible to ignore. They are consistent across age ranges, regions of the country, and income levels. Its not just millennials that are demanding transparency and healthier food, its just about everyone. That’s something for healthy food marketing to keep in mind.
A new study by Deloitte Consulting for the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association compared preferences for buying certain food products. They talked with consumers after the consumer finished a shopping trip and reviewed the products in their baskets. They chose one product and questioned the consumer about what drove them to make that specific purchase. Preferences were divided into two categories traditional and evolving. Traditional preferences were things like taste and convenience, and evolving preferences were about health and wellness, safety and social responsibility.
Surprisingly, evolving preferences won out more than half the time, even when results were broken out by age, regions and income levels. It seems as if everyone wants healthier, more transparent food, not just millennials or the people that can afford it.
NPD Group has been tracking how consumers eat in and away from home for more than three decades. They identified a few groups, Hispanics, Millennials, and Aging Boomers that are directing the trends of the food industry. They all want healthy food, but have different reasons for it. Hispanics like fresh food and food from scratch, and millennials also like fresh and less processed food. Aging boomers want healthful foods, such as food that is high in whole grains, protein, and calcium or low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium because of developing health aliments. Healthy food marketing needs to segment.
Between 2003-2013 consumption of fresh foods grew by 20%. That’s a huge shift in 10 years. Addressing these shifts will absolutely require changes in how the industry communicates with consumers. Regardless of the food product or which group you are targeting, people want transparency when it comes to the food they are feeding their families. The benefits to a brand that communicates honestly can be awesome—like consumer loyalty and advocacy, but the risks hiding things from consumers can destroy a brand.
If companies don’t’ provide information about what’s in their food consumers will assume the worst. Companies must be proactive and find ways to talk with consumers honestly if they want to forge strong relationships. It is unlikely that consumers are going to read scientific reports, so it’s up to marketer to take the information and present it in a compelling way to all of their consumers.
The findings from this study are just the tip of the iceberg and healthy food marketing has much to learn. As time goes on we will see more and more people wanting not only healthy food, but reassurances from a brand that their food is what they say it is.