Less is More: Food Trends Move Toward Cleaner Eating

Posted by Anna Keagy on July 1, 2016

What do Kraft mac & cheese, Campbell’s chicken noodle soup, M&M’s and Panera have in common?

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Topics: Consumer Insights, trends

Spring Arrives and Easter Comes Early This Year

Posted by Anna Keagy on March 22, 2016

Flowers are blooming, trees are starting to get tiny new leaves and the grass is turning green again. Spring has arrived, and it is glorious! With the arrival of spring, Easter is not far behind. In fact, Easter is quite early this year, only a week after the first day of spring. It may catch many by surprise, as it coincides with the end of spring break for many schools—something that isn’t typically the case. What does an earlier than normal Easter mean for retailers and the rest of us?

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Topics: Consumer Insights, trends

More Than Just a Drink: The Rise of Craft Beer

Posted by Anna Keagy on December 18, 2015

Today’s beer consumers want more out of their beverage. It’s about the quality, the uniqueness and the experience. This mindset has led to the rise and popularity of the craft beer industry. This raises the question: is craft beer just a fad or is it here to stay?

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Topics: Consumer Insights, trends

The Fresh Faces of Generation Z

Posted by Hayley Mink on November 10, 2015

Roughly defined as anyone 5 to 19 years old, Generation Z makes up more than 25% of the U.S. population. And the group is as diverse as its age range. Of course shared behaviors exist, but they can’t be used to define them as a whole.

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Topics: Consumer Insights

Hispanics & Grocery: Fresh Perspective

Posted by John Gilboy on June 9, 2015

The exponential growth of Hispanic communities has altered the focus of brand communications. As the authors of Marketing to the New Majority suggest regarding the spike in “minority” audiences – the new mainstream is itself multicultural. As the fabric of the consumer landscape evolves, the intersection of food and family for the Hispanic consumer is ripe with nuanced perspective tied to cultural values and identity.

Hispanic consumers will have a significant impact on food culture in the next five years. NPD Group’s Future of Eating: Who’s Eating What in 2018? predicts that Hispanic preferences and influence will uniquely shape demand and choices in the grocery aisle. Naturally, Hispanics are proportionally represented within the Gen Z (0-23) and Gen Y (24-37) segments; making these younger audiences hyper-relevant for food manufacturers and retailers.

When it comes to food shopping, there’s clear evidence that Hispanic consumers assign special value to fresh grocery options. According to Nielsen research, Hispanic shoppers spend $175 more than the national average annually on fresh foods at traditional grocery stores. The perimeter departments – meat, produce, deli, bakery and seafood – are priorities for Hispanics. Fresh stands for both quality and health; thematics that are increasingly relevant and aspirational for Hispanic consumers. Beyond these value-based reasons, Hispanics are increasingly choosing fresh food because they like cooking from scratch and customizing dishes with personal touches.

What it means + what to think about

The Hispanic shopper engagement dynamic is closely tied to perceived brand voice authenticity. In fact, 54 percent of Hispanics say they’re more loyal to companies that show culture appreciation by communicating in Spanish. Their language represents an important part of their roots and, much like food, it’s a strong cultural connector. Food industry brands from Honey Bunches of Oats to Wendy’s have successfully employed tailored communications and executions to bolster their connectivity with the Hispanic audience.

The Hispanic grocery shopping experience is a multi-generational, family-inclusive and social affair – offering multiple intersection points to cultivate brand advocates. Convenience and value remain important universal needs. However, today’s U.S. Hispanic segment has a fresh perspective with a keen focus on food options that allow them to build their meals rather than just buy them.

Consider some of these approaches to spark engagement with Hispanic consumers in the food aisle:

  • Kitchen connections: The importance of food and the kitchen as a central pillar of Hispanic culture should not be underestimated. Research shows 75 percent of Hispanic families sit down for a meal together every day.
  • Tech savy and mobile centric: Hispanics over-index for both smartphone (87 percent) and tablet (60 percent) ownership. They use devices in store and nearly 80 percent indicate that digital shopping tools have changed their shopping habits; 84.2 percent have searched for an online coupon based on a recommendation (compared to 70.6 percent of all consumers).
  • Organics and nutrition factor: Simmons research indicates Hispanics are more likely than non-Hispanics to look for organic or natural foods when shopping. Overall, Hispanics ages 18 to 29 are more likely than non-Hispanics to say that nutritional value is the most important factor in what food they eat.
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Topics: Consumer Insights

Connected Consumers - They Don’t Just Go Shopping. They’re Always Shopping.

Posted by John Gilboy on March 31, 2015

As consumers shift focus toward spring and the warmer months ahead, engagement efforts must target the evolving adaptations in play for today’s retail experience.

Marketers recognize mobile has become intrinsic to who we are and drives a myriad of cultural behaviors. Indeed, the net continues to cast wider with smartphone use specifically. According to eMarketer, the number of U.S. consumers with a smartphone will exceed 192.4 million by 2016, when 58.5 percent of the total U.S. population will have a smartphone.

Meanwhile, the traditional sales funnel is being replaced by the Mobile Shopping Life Cycle. This variation of the customer journey highlights times, locations and mindsets when customers are primed for engagement. As one industry expert concludes, today’s consumers “no longer go shopping, they always are shopping.”

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Topics: Consumer Insights

Hispanicize 2015: Authenticity and relevancy for the Hispanic consumer

Posted by MaggieAguirre on March 26, 2015

According to a recent Nielsen report, the Hispanic population (52 million) continues to be the fastest growing in the U.S., with an impressive buying power of $1.2 trillion. That statistic drew us to Miami earlier this month for Hispanicize, the largest annual event for Latino trendsetters and newsmakers in journalism, blogging, marketing, entertainment and tech entrepreneurship.

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Topics: Consumer Insights, Marketing

Marketing to Women: The Rise of Fempowerment

Posted by John Gilboy on March 4, 2015

It takes each of us to foster a culture where all voices are heard and differences embraced. It takes each of us to – as this year's official International Women's Day theme communicates – Make It Happen.

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Topics: Consumer Insights, Marketing

Food Culture + Food Sharing = The Revolution Grows

Posted by John Gilboy on February 17, 2015

Food unifies strangers, friends and family alike – satisfying hunger and sparking emotional connectivity. The way today’s consumer intersects with food has shifted significantly. Foodie culture now sits firmly in the mainstream and has emerged as an increasingly important part of consumer social DNA.

Pop culture has demystified the sanctity of food and influenced our growing affinity. However, the biggest driver has been preferences of the “foodie” generation (aka Millennials). In a way very distinct from prior generations, Gen Y views food as a means for personal storytelling and self-expression. They’re posting food creations (even adorably combining food + baby love), searching for cool curated foodie content and checking in on social to share the best food experiences. These levels of engagement have altered perspective and caused many to view the food conversation as a source of shared values and community.

Today’s “foodgramming” Gen Y is redefining the intersection of food and community in a variety of ways. It’s all about being together when it comes to food. According to the experts at Future Cast, Millennials prefer to go grocery shopping with friends rather than go alone. They also tend to feel less comfortable eating a meal alone (45 percent vs. 54 percent of older consumers). Interestingly, their collective love of travel, cultural exploration and food sharing has inspired global supper clubs like Eat With – described as the Airbnb for breaking bread with locals in their homes.

When it comes to food experiences, Gen Y is seeking convenience, low prices and unique foods and flavors. They see food as a means for expression related to other important touch points like travel and social good.

Brands connected to food culture and ones with less direct ties have activated experiential and digital channels to connect with consumers. For instance, IBM partnered with the Institute of Culinary Education to showcase a recipe-generating program and featured it via a food truck appearing at SXSW. Other more food-centric brands leveraged Instagram for campaign executions, like Applebee’s Fantographer, and targeted paid media, like Chobani’s integration. In both cases, elevating engagement and helping shift brand perceptions.

Beyond the incredibly relevant Millennial segment, marketers should look to the future and consider how population shifts will be influencing food culture. NPD Group’s report – The Future of Eating: Who’s Eating What in 2018? – indicates over the next five years Hispanics will have the most tangible impact on food. The report suggests Hispanics (and young people generally) want to be more involved with their meals. This means future mainstream food habits will likely include from-scratch preparation and less reliance on prepackaged box foods.

Consider some of these approaches to deliver authentic messages and engage food culture focused consumers:

  • Embrace eco: Millennials feel it’s important to be socially responsible foodies. In fact, 70 percent of millennials are buying less bottled water because of the negative environmental impact. Appeal to their affinity for socially conscious food production (locally sourced) and packaging. Of course, focus on organics and healthy living is also relevant.
  • Storytell: Millennials are especially interested in the story behind their food and looking to learn more about what’s in it and how it’s made. They want to know more about how their food is made, and they think brands don’t disclose enough about their products. Give them a story to learn, love and share.
  • Think gender neutrality: Millennials are more likely than previous generations to be gender neutral when it comes to the role of cooking (61 percent of females and 60 percent of males enjoy cooking). Just as fashion and retail shopping have emerged as gender-neutral topics, approach food with equal balance.
  • Appeal to cultural inclusivity: Millennials consider food an adventure and seek out different, ethnic and artisan foods (40 percent like to try new kinds of ethnic cuisines).
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Topics: Consumer Insights

1990’s Nostalgia Rising: The Millennial Connection

Posted by John Gilboy on January 29, 2015

The fashion (think crop tops + overalls) has reappeared at retail. The music (think NKOTB + Backstreet Boys) has returned with large-scale tours. The hit TV shows (think Boy Meets World) have been updated with original stars (now Girl Meets World). There are listicles offering reminders of the decade’s best pop culture. The 1990’s are back!

The events of the 1990’s – including the emergence of digital technology and the movement toward multiculturalism – shaped the sentiment, perspective and preferences of today’s highly influential and coveted Millennial population.

Interestingly, the biggest and most diverse generation in history has demonstrated what may be considered a case of early onset nostalgia for its (not too distant) wonder years. Gen Y’s affinity for reaching back to the past (think #TBTs) corresponds with their most notable characteristic: documenting life’s “pose + post” experiences through a constant stream of social content.

From products to pop culture, brand marketers are leveraging Gen Y’s heart for their formative years to foster deeper connections. Appealing to grown-up 90’s kids, General Mills recently reintroduced the popular (but discontinued) French Toast Crunch cereal. The move was a response to trending online conversations and a series of dedicated Facebook groups (Gen Y makes their voice heard again!) and resulted in a spike in positive social engagement and media coverage for the brand.

Recognizing a significant life stage shift for Gen Y (many are now parents), brands are tapping 90’s nostalgia to reach those making purchase decisions for their own Gen Z kids. In 1991, Hasbro introduced Puppy Surprise, a dog toy that came with either three, four or five puppies. The brand’s new parent, Just Play, brought the toy back in 2014 and fueled advance buzz by offering it to bloggers and various influencers (many who played with it as kids). Even retailers were surprised by the crush for demand, causing the brand to actually pull TV advertising as it moved to get more product on shelves.

What it means + what to think about

Nostalgia can serve as a powerful tool for marketers. Recent clinical research has demonstrated the positive effects of nostalgia – counteracting loneliness, boredom and anxiety. Reflecting on happy memories makes people feel good about the future and offers a stronger sense of social connectivity.

While utilizing nostalgia cues and triggers for communications engagement is not entirely novel, it has emerged as a significant channel to effectively reach and influence Gen Y. Perhaps even more than prior generations, Millennials tend to attach greater emotional equity to the culture that defined their youth (80% still like to watch movies and shows that came out when they were kids).

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Topics: Consumer Insights