A new national research study by Fogelson & Co., a strategy and branding firm, finds that “foodies” are no longer a niche demographic of food enthusiasts. Instead, most consumers are what they refer to as “Food Connected Consumers (FCC).” This new influential category of Americans comes as consumers are becoming more interested in different foods and manufacturing practices from around the world.
According to the study, 62 percent of consumers represent this new segment of food-aware and food-involved people. This percentage accounts for approximately $835 million in US food expenditures.
“Our research underscores an emerging, passionate majority of mainstream Americans – FCCs – who care about the food they eat, value transparency, and are loyal to brands that speak to them,” said Susie Fogelson, Founder and CEO of Fogelson & Co., and former head of branding and strategy at Food Network. “The findings suggest ways for food, beverage, hospitality and dining brands to rethink their storytelling strategy.”
According to Fogelson & Co., FCCs enjoy cooking and preparing fresh meals from scratch at least three times per week. This trend can be noted in the growing popularity of meal kits among millennial consumers. The five-billion-dollar meal kit industry is built upon the notion that nutritious foods can be made from home. This industry also appeals to the growing consumer demand for transparent meals with recognizable ingredients.
“These confident cooks may be swapping certain ingredients based on health concerns, flavor preferences, or even product availability. Brands can improve their chances of being the consumer choice through education, and demonstrating the product’s range of use,” said Fogelson. “And marketers shouldn’t be afraid to present new products and flavors – 67 percent of FCC consider themselves food explorers, which is fueling the global flavors trend.”
Consumers have been found to enjoy exploring different culinary creations, especially in North America which is known for its multiculturalism. This is why major players in the food industry have been seen investing in international cuisine and ingredients from countries such as Mexico, India and China.
These Food Conscious Consumers commonly find food inspiration from supermarkets, club and specialty shops, farmers markets and online. In fact, 91 percent of FCCs were found to look online for recipes and food inspiration, 56 percent watch food shows, 30 percent read food magazines and 20 percent follow food bloggers and influencers.
Fogelson believes that the key to connecting with this demographic is through digital engagement and drawing a story behind the brand. The company also encourages face-to-face marketing in stores.
“Digital is a clear priority, it’s where they’re finding inspiration and information, but developing the right mix across channels—and playing to each channel’s strength—is ideal.”
Food Conscious Consumers are also concerned about where their food comes from and how it was manufactured. This is why food companies need to align their manufacturing processes with the values of their target consumers. According to the study, 72 percent of FCCs support causes they believe in, 50 percent prefer to buy brands that align with their values and 26 percent actively look for products that contain simple, recognizable ingredients.
Modern consumers are inquisitive, socially conscious and intelligent, which is why food companies need to connect with them in order to nurture sales. Fogelson & Co.’s recent study is indicative of how important it is to incorporate the values of consumers in company practices.