Thoughts on Today’s Food Marketing Landscape (Part Two)

October 1, 2014


In a recent post, we shared the first half of a dozen select insights about the U.S. food marketplace that FleishmanHillard’s food and agribusiness experts arrived at by reviewing published research and sharing our own personal and professional experiences. In this post, we are passing along the remaining six observations we believe should be taken into account when developing strategies and programs designed to increase consumption of food products in today’s marketing environment.

  1. Food is social … and so is food communications
  2. Food has always been an essential element for bringing people together. But now it is social in other ways. We don’t just prepare it, we watch it on TV. We rank it and rate it. We love it and hate it, and we Yelp about it either way. You used to pray over it, but now you’re more likely to take a picture of it first. From AllRecipes to Pinterest, food is one of the content kings of the internet; people are as hungry for content as they are for food itself.

  3. In the public health debate about obesity, you’re a hero, a villain, or just waiting your turn
  4. But odds are slim that you’ll get to opt out completely. Nobody’s expecting you to solve it on your own, but they are expecting you to be a part of finding a solution.

  5. “Snack” is a verb, a noun – and a trend
  6. Consumers are eating fewer meals and more snacks – especially in the evening – and they’re shedding outdated definitions of snacks in the process. No longer just “indulgences” that disrupt regular eating occasions, snacks now include healthy eating occasions that are replacing meals themselves. Men tend to snack for energy. Women tend to snack for weight control. Marketers are jumping on the snack wagon for both. Those that don’t have actual product to put in the snack aisle – commodities among them – will have to work extra hard on usage education and promotion.

  7. Keep the mind in mind
  8. For Boomers, a failing mind is more terrifying than a failing body. Specifically, cognition ranks higher than heart disease and cancer among their worries. With the last Boomers just entering their 50s the coming decades are likely to bring more demand for brain foods.

  9. Millennials matter, but they’re not in charge … yet
  10. The population shift is well underway with Boomers and Generation X-ers losing two to three percentage points per decade as a share of total population as we head toward 2040. While Millennials are the largest generational cohort in the landscape today they don’t dominate the major marketing categories just yet. Boomers and Generation X-ers are still likely to be the sweet spot for most food marketers for the time being, but marketers should be laying the groundwork for the next wave at the same time.

  11. Remember, it’s food, not a pill
  12. Nearly every purchase decision consumers make is based on a combination of rational and emotional factors. No matter how good a food may be for you, it had sure better taste good, too, or make you feel good, or bring back good memories, or empower the life you aspire to, or in some other way trigger the pleasure center in your brain. There’s more to food than the nutrition label – which is not to say the label is unimportant. In fact, it’s never been more important. But it’s important because of one thing – it helps the consumer justify the purchase they’re about to make. When you have a nutrition story to tell, tell it. But wrap a sweet layer of emotion around it.