BY CARLOS RAMIREZ
FOUNDER AND CEO, POWERFUL YOGURT
We have clearly seen a movement towards healthy living, from foods to exercise programmes, to new types of gyms, and online workouts. What societal or consumer trends are we experiencing right now? Millennials, generation X-ers, baby boomers?
In our corner of the US CPG market, we are seeing some really interesting things happening right now.
Protein is transforming languishing grocery categories
Today we are living in a protein-motivated marketplace. Two-thirds of adults (64%) think protein helps provide energy throughout the day; 62% report that it helps maintain energy levels, and this mindset will continue to transform our supermarket aisles. Think of the most boring sections of the grocery store; that’s where the current consumer protein fixation can be transformative, and part of the reason Greek yogurt was such a smashing success. Take cottage cheese, butter, cereal, nuts, etc – these are categories that are “tired”, where a boost of protein can transform the value they hold to consumers.
Fat is back
In the US marketplace, we are seeing a shift happening as we speak as everyone from natural to mainstream consumers embrace fat for enhanced energy and even brain function. We saw this trend start at niche natural markets and are just now seeing it hit mainstream US supermarkets like Walmart and Target. Then it will take over the club stores (Sam’s Club, Costco, etc). In the case of Powerful Yogurt, we are meeting the demand with our new whole milk yogurt line that launches in early summer, and we’re working to be a first mover in the club space as they respond to the trend. We spoke with a club retailer this week who says the trend is going to reach their shelves in the next 12-18 months, so we’re positioning ourselves to be there for the rollout.
Mainstream consumers demand ‘clean’ options
Sales of natural foods are growing at a 12% compound rate; your typical consumer is demanding healthy, great tasting selections and is able to read a nutrition label and identify synthetic, unnatural ingredients. Eight in ten US adults report making an effort toward better health in the last year. Therefore, our “everyday” consumer is more informed and educated and demanding about their food choices, whereas we used to see this kind of discerning consumer primarily in the natural food channel. Now, this discerning consumer is the dominant US shopper.
More than 50% of all US eating occasions are snacking occasions, driving consumers to “on-the-go” food items, while also demanding healthy, great tasting options. We continue to see the rise of snack foods as North Americans – and especially millennials – are grazing more through the day instead of focusing on three square meals. Restaurants are embracing the trend with snack menus, and “snack visits” to restaurants now make up 18% of their business. Grocery stores can still better embrace this trend. We expect to see much more shelf space dedicated to healthy, on-the-go snack options in US supermarkets.
Consumers like to snack, but clean-label has become a large part of it.
We are constantly learning more about millennials (ages 18–34) and see that they have a unique shopping pattern that favors both mass retailers (Walmart has been a big winner here) and club stores that offer deep discounts, while also filling in their shopping at niche specialty stores. In our case, our brand resonates very strongly with this age group, and it’s no coincidence that our strongest points of sale, like Walmart and large regional chains, are where millennials are doing their grocery shopping. Millennials are becoming the kings and queen of the marketplace and market pace, and winning their confidence is key to US market success.
‘Extremes’ approach to health and lifestyle
On one hand consumers are spending more time at gyms than ever before. The current weight loss trend isn’t getting in a car and driving to a Weight Watchers weekly weigh-in, it’s going to your local box for an intense Cross Fit workout or sweating against your neighbor at Soul Cycle. While people are very honed in to the role exercise plays in fitness, which has benefitted us greatly, check out the #cheatday hashtag on Instagram and you’ll see that at the other extreme people are getting into things like hamburgers with a bonus donut inside, or a rich milkshake with a monster cookie on top. Things like this show the delicate balance you have to play with consumers who are both disciplined and indulgent. These consumers rely on “happy medium” products to get them through the day to day – products that taste great and taste indulgent, but that keep them on track from a nutrition standpoint on a daily basis.
The need to combat obesity, especially in the US
The obesity epidemic is causing not only obese people to become healthier, but healthy customers to try harder to avoid obesity at all costs – just look at the CrossFit obsession and the growing number of triathletes and marathoners.
All trends are cyclical, but some last longer than others. In terms of trends we are going to keep seeing for a while, the hunger for protein, acceptance of fat and frequent snacking are all trends that we think are here to stay for the next couple of years. These aren’t stand-alone trends; they are tied in to larger societal trends having to do with how we are working out now, how we structure our days and this delicate balance between indulgence and discipline that North Americans are grappling with.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020