Predicting Food Trends

The Lempert Report
September 26, 2023

On the Bullseye - everyone wants to be able to predict food trends - but it's not that simple. As Americans become more diverse, demographically, economically and socially - it’s critical that we do a deep dive into segmenting each generations preference and understand that the days of a great food product that everyone loves - and buys - is long gone.

Datassential developed a new report using its consumer preferences data base to give us a glimpse of how foods preferences have shifted over time. But before we dig in, let's do some food generation history.

To kick things off, let's briefly outline the generations: Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. The Baby Boomers, born between 1946-1964, came of age in a post-war era. Gen X, following them from 1965-1980, experienced the rise of modern tech. Millennials, from 1981-1996, came of age during the tech boom, while Gen Z, born 1997 onwards, are the digital natives. Boomers brought convenience foods, like TV dinners and fast food chains. Gen X saw a fusion of international cuisines. Millennials, with their health consciousness and tech-savviness, ushered in organic food, meal kits, and food delivery apps. Gen Z is all about plant-based diets, sustainability, and global flavors. So, considering these shifts, how can we predict future trends? We must study generational values.

For example, if Gen Z prioritizes sustainability, we can expect more eco-friendly packaging or farm-to-table concepts. It's all about aligning with core values of each generation. As we look at emerging trends we are seeing a rise in virtual dining experiences, AI-generated recipes, and personalized nutrition, thanks to the tech-driven Gen Z and younger Alpha generation. The emphasis is on experience, technology, and personal health.

Back to the Datassential report, here are some of their highlights: Spices and sauces set the stage for consumers to become more comfortable with new foods and cuisines. For consumers, these flavors – no matter what part of the globe they come from – help bridge the gap in the introduction to new cuisines. Don’t count out older consumers Datassential says. Boomers are catching up with younger consumers in terms of food trend awareness across nearly all categories.  Boomers are a group for the food industry to reconsider focusing on as they appear to be using their retirement money and time to indulge a passion for food. Millennials, dubbed the “foodie generation,” are aware of new food trends but aren’t necessarily loyal to those trends once they experience them. While having a new food product get noticed on a menu or a supermarket shelf is half the battle, a sole focus on this generation may not offer desired brand loyalty. Boomers and Gen Xers tend to take more time to become aware of new trends, but once they do, they rate their affinity of consumers who love/like—higher than millennials. Because of this Gen X tends to be a key demographic to focus on for “proliferation-stage” trends, or those trends that have been adapted for mainstream appeal. Here's the topline - no consumers are alike, and in their era of data data dat, to succeed you must target and know your consumer before you try to sell them.

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