By Rebecca E. Parsons
The relationship between consumer and brand is evolving, as is the very landscape of shopping. Seniors, IndieWomen and Latino Millennials are swiftly becoming the nation’s most influential groups of consumers. By the end of this decade, they will rule shopping, according to a new Packaged Facts report, Americans in 2020.*
Nowhere is this more evident than in the food sector. These groups are rapidly becoming the main influencers of the burgeoning food trends addressing wellness, international flavors and fresh, easy-to-prepare meals.
Consumer confidence is cautiously optimistic. Boomers, IndieWomen and Latino Millennials’ food choices are shifting toward more healthful and more accessible products.
“Shoppers are looking for convenient, healthful and satisfying food for themselves and their families, and brands will rise to meet these demands through product innovation and the use of mobile technology to make shopping faster and more convenient,” writes Supermarket Guru Phil Lempert.
Food brands and industry professionals are taking note as they begin to focus on the evolution of these trends among all of the emerging groups. The numbers of these groups are staggering.
Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, number 80 million. They account for 44% of the households with annual incomes over $75K. With greater spending power and increased discretionary time, they are powerful consumers.
When it comes to food, Boomers focus on wellness and eating with intention. The Boomer Wellness Culinary Trend Mapping Report discusses nutritional and dietary patterns that fuel Boomers’ dining and food purchasing decisions.
Seniors dietary needs are multifaceted, as many Boomers are concerned about cultivating and maintaining a holistic well-being. According to the report, “Their food behaviors are reflective of a robust discretionary spending capacity and a need to accommodate a busy lifestyle, reflected in increased restaurant usage and the use of technology to conveniently order food.“
Grocery Shopping 2.0 states, “Older consumers embrace technology innovation to order fresh, packaged and prepared foods.” They embrace nutritional beverages/juicing and look for healthy messaging on packaging.
Millennials, in general, are foodies. They appreciate fresh recipes, new tastes and socially responsible products. As the Latino population grows in number and more Latino Millennials are gaining higher education, the stage is set for greater consumer influence and spending clout.
Latino Millennials are a bright spot for the evolving food industry. The growth of Latino and Asian populations has prompted the popularity of international foods and flavors. People expect -even demand- more flavor and variety at mealtime.
According to an article by Melissa Kress, “There are three key differentiators between Hispanic Millennials and general-market Millennials: Hispanic Millennials are focused on empowerment, cause marketing and technology…” She continues, “Latino Millennials fall into the Clean and Green, Anti-Millennial and Old School categories.”
“Generation Z, Millennials, and Hispanics will be the growth drivers of this country’s eating patterns over the next five years,” says Darren Seifer, NPD food and beverage industry analyst. “This is a pivotal time for manufacturers and retailers to gain their favor as many of their habits are being formed now. Most are still at a life stage when their behaviors are flexible and they are receptive.”
In an article titled “The Future of Eating: Who’s Eating What in 2018?,” the authors say that the Millennials are choosing “from-scratch preparation” and fresh ingredients over prepackaged box foods. Latino Millennials will continue to prepare and eat traditional Latin dishes. This means the diversity of foods offered on grocery shelves will evolve.
Women have always influenced food choices in America. The 27+ woman, living alone with no children, is known as the “IndieWoman.” Delayed marriages and a marked pursuit of three-letter degrees is helping usher in a key food retrofit.
IndieWomen enjoy cooking but do not have time to make a meal from scratch every night. According to a ConAgra Foods survey conducted by SupermarketGuru.com, 59% of respondents say they purchase frozen meals because of their busy schedules. Brands strive to provide this demographic with more semi-homemade meals made with fresh, high-quality ingredients.
The 31 million women in this category are emerging as major food influencers. They enjoy shopping, being social and growing their careers. IndieWomen spend a whopping $50 billion on food and beverages each year.
Food industry professionals are wise to focus on the evolution of these powerful emerging groups. What we eat and what will appear on grocery store shelves will be a direct result of their influence in the years to come.
*Americans in 2020 focuses on economic, occupational, and domestic demographic data, which is a predictor of American life in coming years. The primary data comes from Simmons National Consumer Surveys, Experian Marketing Services and the U.S. Census Bureau’s data and projections for key insights into population trends in America. The report also references data collected from business and academic publications as well as non-governmental organizations and think tanks.