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The Changing Face of Consumer Food CultureThe Changing Face of Consumer Food Culture

December 30, 2011

3 Min Read
The Changing Face of Consumer Food Culture

BELLEVUE, Wash.In its Hartbeat Newsletter, the Hartman Group offers 12 consumer culture trends to keep in mind for the new year. The company says the way Americans eat is continually changing, and it's in the best interest of the food industry to stay in step with these shifts in consumer behavior.

1.      Changing Food CultureMeal Fragmentation: Today's households are run as "loose democracies" where children have an equal say in what, where and when the family should eat.

2.      All By MyselfEating Alone: 44% of adult eating happens alone. Currently, Hartman Group says, these lone wolves are largely ignored by the marketing efforts of many CPG companies.

3.      Did You Say Meal? Sorry, Were a Snack Culture: The company says 48% of all adult eating occurs between meals, a combined result of a rise in eating alone, and a decline in eating together as a family.

4.      Immediate Food ConsumptionMy Way, Now Please: Increasingly, eating is driven by  whimsy and mood. More than 11% of all adult eating today includes foods or beverages consumed within one hour of purchase. Immediate consumption is about a long-term shift toward impulsive, unplanned eating of all kinds, the company says.

5.      Sorry, June; It's a Modern Family: The nuclear family of the '50s is gone. Marketers need to focus on today's intergenerational, non-traditional, single parent, unmarried, and multi-ethnic families.

6.      Wellness Is Quality of Life: Consumers just want to have fun. They strive for health and wellness in order to enjoy a higher quality of life.

7.      Food CultureClasses Begin Today: Knowledge is power, and understanding Food Culture can be a powerful tool for success. Food Culture, according to the company, represents everything there is to know about food that lies beyond our own personal preferences and, in the case of food manufacturers, beyond their own categories or niches.

8.      Nutrition EducationClass Dismissed: Turns out, consumers aren't interested in symbols, icons and calories counts on their food labels. "Findings both within our firm and elsewhere are so far inconclusive that actions like requiring calorie counts on foodservice menus actually change consumer purchase behaviors," Hartman Group notes. What consumers want is help that inspires their interest in all things food and cooking.

9.      Food Occasions New Vision for Meals: The notion of "three squares a day" is outdated. Hartman Group analysis of food culture revealed more than 150 distinct eating occasions beyond traditional daypart meals. Understanding occasions and occasion-based eating can bring opportunity for both retailers and CPG brands.

10.  Millennial MarketingFun Please: Millennials and technology go hand-in-hand. But, instead of trying to build brand 'loyalty' among this demographic, make an impact with transparency, integrity and a sense of fun.

11.  Moooo-ve Over Cash Cow: To find whitespace opportunities in crowded CPG categories, marketers should assess food and beverage categories culturally and consider investing in small emerging brands rather than focusing only on "cash cow" brands.

12.  RetailCrossing the Chasm: Retail needs a makeover. Hartman Group says the retail experience has lost significance with today's shoppers. What's needed are culturally relevant retail and brand experiences.

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