Part 1: The Foodie-ization of America

October 19th, 2015 Posted by food experiences, Food Trend, Healthier habits, Healthy Living, Insight, shopper behavior, shopper experience, Uncategorized 0 comments on “Part 1: The Foodie-ization of America”

Once cooking and experience elevate, there’s no going back.

Study after study charts the migration of our food culture and parallel consumer behavior away from legacy packaged, processed foods and towards what is deemed ‘all things’ real and fresh. Consumers at one time may have been confronted with healthier in the form of addition by subtraction. Meaning that anything presented as good for you meant sacrificing something else – less sugar, fat, calories or salt. And, of course, the perception that down the pipe with the elimination of bad stuff so went good taste experiences.

Now, we find ourselves in an overwhelmingly different era as exemplified by a new take on better for you – addition by addition.

Recent retail studies reveal that merely relocating a packaged food to an area adjacent to the fresh aisles improved its sales velocity.

But in the era of transparency this is not enough.

People have connected the dots:

We are witnessing the emergence of “mainstream foodies” whose motivations in selection and purchase mark an overwhelming preference for higher quality food and beverage experiences to accompany their desire for higher quality lifestyles.

  • The parent who now feels extra pressure to role-model healthier shopping, cooking and eating behaviors.
  • The teenager who is an avid label-reader and insists on organic, free range and no-GMOs.
  • The Millennial who’s in search of craft, local and seasonal/limited edition food finds.

As menus and flavors elevate in various meal experiences, from fast casual dining to home-delivered fresh meal kits, taste and quality expectations adjust. Upward. Permanently. The quality floor rises and with it the demand for more interesting foods.

So-called big food, the larger recognizable CPG companies who’ve been at the core of the food industry for 50 years, have watched a combined $18 billion in market share evaporate in the last 5 years.

The unstoppable, permanent migration to unique, fresh and less-processed foods heralds the attraction of store perimeter as the desired place to shop rather than the center aisles.

What’s at work here is a wholesale climate change in food culture that has lifted the bar on what quality means, while validating social acceptance of routine co-mingling between healthy motivations and the desire for elevated (sometimes indulgent) taste experiences.

Both are good and can be had in a healthy lifestyle. These beliefs are no longer mutually exclusive – they both live under the quality umbrella.

Re-think, re-formulate, re-vitalize and re-stage:

It’s time to work back to your mission and what your brand portfolio is on the planet to accomplish. If relevance to consumer lifestyle interests is ultimately at the center of these changes, then how must the business be repositioned to reclaim relevance?

Price promotions and other transactional strategies only deliver short-term spikes. The longer term view of this up-scaling in food adventurism will require a new design and architecture in product formulation, ingredient strategies, positioning – and – new communications tools that match the consumer’s move to desiring help over hype.

Our next post charts to change in the communications landscape.


Bob Wheatley is the CEO of Chicago-based Emergent Healthy Living. Emergent provides integrated brand strategy, communications and insight solutions to national food, beverage, home and lifestyle companies.  Emergent’s unique and proprietary transformation and growth focus helps organizations navigate, engage and leverage consumers’ desire for higher quality, healthier product or service experiences that mirror their desire for  higher quality lifestyles. For more information, contact and follow on Twitter @BobWheatley.

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