The Baby Boomer generation is becoming a focal consumer population for the food industry and it’s a sophisticated one. This generation accounts for 44% of the households with incomes over $75,000, so discretionary spending is much greater than for younger consumers. Food marketers have been obsessed with Millennials as of late, but more than a third, or 36%, live at home with parents according to Pew Research.
Baby Boomers, as a mature consumer group, are statistically more affluent and well-positioned in the new economy, and they are quietly re-entering the spotlight.
The quest for wellness meets technology
Boomers and wellness were chronicled recently in the latest report, Boomer Wellness, from the culinary trend series published by Packaged Facts and CCD Innovation. Central to the discussion of consumer drivers in food and foodservice, buying decisions are a concern for nutrition and the “Quantified Self”, a self-quantifying movement. Technology has empowered Boomers to build up a personal nutritional profile and to self-evaluate.
Nutritional genomics is the study of how individual genetic variations affect our response to nutrients and this is part of the self-quantifying equation for Boomers. Another popular trend is dietary self-tracking, also covered in Boomer Wellness. Boomers are likely to embrace data-collecting devices and apps to monitor health measures and also their diet and exercise.
Boomers aren’t a one-size-fits-all generation, either, and it’s important for food industry decision-makers to filter Boomers in the context of three groups, as most food marketers have done: young Boomers (ages 49-54), middle Boomers (ages 55-61), and older Boomers (ages 61-67. Mitigating long-term illness and managing chronic disease may be a much more significant influence for older Boomers group, for example.
Another driver for Boomer decisions related to household food and restaurant meal consumption is a movement to eat for the microbiome, micro-managing the amount of intestinal bacteria for digestive well-being. This and other advances in health and technology are being embraced by the Boomer generation with a high level of sophistication and benefit from the higher household wealth.
Products like probiotics, prebiotics, and fermented foods, such as Greek yogurt, will fare well as a result of these types of Boomer reflections on dietary needs and maintaining intestinal wellness.
These mostly upper middle-income Boomers are also looking to satisfy their sophisticated palates, but balance these with a greater nutritional awareness. Restaurants of all shapes and sizes have been the winners of a propensity to accommodate a busy lifestyle with increased away-from-home meal consumption.
Boomers are keeping busy and this is playing out in delayed retirement (retiring later in life) and also taking more time for food exploration, a result of more adventurous attitudes toward international foods. Having traveled more often and been exposed to a variety of cultures and ways of life, Boomers are ready to plunge into new and exciting dining experiences.
For food retailers and restaurants, understanding core drivers behind Boomer attitudes toward foods from restaurants and food retailers is the first step in successfully catering to their needs. A deep dive into these drivers will provide essential clues into the successful product development and the synchronization of menu introductions that resonate with this powerful consumer demographic.
Wellness self-tracking, purposeful eating and other current manifestations of the “new” Boomer lifestyle are all part of the relationship between Boomers and food in today’s digital world.
The new Boomer Wellness report was issued this month, co-published by Packaged Facts and CCD Innovation. For more information, review the products page here.
Add Boomer Wellness: Culinary Trend Mapping Report to your own intelligence library and receive a 5% discount during our promotional period effective through March 28, 2014. Use code PFBoomers.
Photo credit: Lifeway Kefir probiotic product