NMI's Molyneaux Talks Consumer Trends

During Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, March 6-9, Natural Marketing Institute discussed various consumer trends, and how these trends will affect the food industry and food product design.

During Natural Products Expo West in Anaheim, March 6-9, Natural Marketing Institute discussed various consumer trends, and how these trends will affect the food industry and food product design.

The first trend, according to Maryellen Molyneaux, president and managing partner, Natural Marketing Institute, results from what she called a "polarization due to changes income in the middle class." A significant reduction in median household income is causing a shift in consumer shopping behaviors to include more dollar store visits. At the same time, high-end and specialty stores are gaining momentum as a result of 10% of the population controlling 48% of the income.

This dynamic has created a "fallout" in the middle, causing one-third of the middle-class population to fall into lower income. In terms of food product design, this shift will force manufacturers to take a closer look at ingredients, product sizes and how these play into a product's end cost.

Molyneaux identified the most valuable class of consumer as the "well-beings," which are highly engaged in health and wellness, and shop more and buy more on shopping trips than any other segment—they spend 10% more than the nearest segment, and 25% more than the segment least engaged in health.

The interconnection of natural, organic and non-GMO is another buzz topic among consumers. For example, consumers show more skepticism toward natural foods compared to organic, which is well accepted. However, what they really want, Molyneaux said, is for their foods to be as close as possible to Mother Nature, with as little processing as possible. Adding "non-GMO" to the mix has given natural foods toting the claim more credibility, whereas organic foods, despite organic certification, are expected to also carry a non-GMO label.

Another trend revolves around the millennials and their growing influence in the marketplace. There are more than 80 million millennials, who are known as savvy, and sometimes brazen, shoppers who are highly educated and highly connected via social media. Their large population and food beliefs rooted in health and wellness create immense opportunity in the food and beverage industry.

For a closer look at the trends affecting how consumers view and purchase foods and beverages, watch Food Product Design's News Desk: NMI's Molyneaux Talks Consumer Trends.

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