Customer insight consultant says buyers of brassicas and leafy salads could expand their sales by taking note of the eating habits of consumer groups like ‘Generation Y’ and the baby boomers
Generation Y’s willingness to try new foods and baby boomers’ love of “rustic chic” are just two of the consumer trends creating expansion opportunities for new brassica and leafy salads products, according to Elena Ozeritskaya, founder of the Netherlands-based Fresh Insight consultancy.
As they slurp cappuccini with froth sticking in their thick, scruffy beards, some might not want to believe that Generation Y’s so-called hipsters are actually helping to influence the future of grocery shopping.
But consumer trends expert Ozeritskaya believes Generation Y (those born between around 1985 and 2000) is “the most educated, affluent, assertive and IT-orientated generation in history”.
Consequently, she advises category managers looking to grow their shelf space to focus heavily on new marketing concepts for this group. “Consumers are ready to experiment with brassicas and leafy salads and they are looking for novelties,” she explains. “The interest in veg is there but we need to think of more solutions.”
In addition, Ozeritskaya says there are several other consumer groups, such as baby boomers, and long-term trends towards healthier eating that are also creating a wealth of new openings for novelty brassica and leafy salads products – such as brassica “snack packs” or brassicas that can be mixed in with salads.
To point buyers and growers in the right direction, we look at some of today’s megatrends – the global forces of development that impact business, economy, society, culture and lives and thereby define our future world – as well as the global consumer trends dictating what consumers are buying and why.
Generation Y is one of three megatrends currently shaping the future of the food industry, with 88% of the group willing to try new foods – a point that should not be overlooked by the fresh produce industry.
In fact, Generation Y’s pattern of behaviour could potentially drive many ideas for new products, according to Ozeritskaya. For instance, snacks represent 35% of this generation’s meals since they are pressed for time – maybe as they dash from college to the bar. So, Generation Y wants more ‘hand-held food’ and even finds sandwiches inconvenient.
They are also information hungry and keen to know the story behind their food, such as where it was grown and its ethnic origin. “Transparency is the new ‘green’,” opines Ozeritskaya. “They [Generation Y] are information hungry. They are the most tech-savvy and diverse generation with the most diverse taste. Empower them – they are the group that influence others online too.”
Health, wellness and wellbeing
This megatrend represents an enormous opportunity for the produce industry. As Ozeritskaya reveals, society is moving towards a tax on fat, salt and sugar, and rewards for healthy eating. “The food industry has become its own solution for preventing obesity,” she explains.
Supersized food is apparently out of fashion and food will become the medicine, she adds. This information is particularly welcome news for those who grow and sell nutrient-rich salad leaves and “superfood” brassicas.
Technology and social networking
Some 52% of UK consumers now use the internet to do their shopping. “Technology will be part of everything, part of shopping,” explains Ozeritskaya. “As such, there is an opportunity for the fresh produce industry to use sites like Pinterest to showcase new ways of eating lettuce and brassicas, such as substituting traditional tortilla wraps with lettuce to make ‘lettuce wraps’.”
The future is also likely to see consumers use their smartphones to help them buy foods that match their DNA and individual health conditions.
Global consumer trends
Indulgence (representing 15-20% of European market value)
From the dragon-like appearance of the Romanesque cauliflower to hobbit-sized micro leaves, those who fall into this “indulgence” category are all about “the sensorial experience” of eating, explains Ozeritskaya.
These consumers enjoy eating in novel locations and seek out quirky, new eating concepts, flavours and sensations. They are also looking for “cool” ways of consuming staples, like the faithful cauliflower. “You can smash it [cauliflower], like potatoes, or use it as a gluten-free option for your pizza crust,” she suggests.
Thanks largely to this group of experience junkies it has also become cool to be a specialty food retailer since shopping has also become part of the overall food experience. Ozeritskaya points out that innovative packaging and brands also appeal to this segment of consumers, which is made up of more men than women.
Well being (25-30% of European market value)
Generation Y, baby boomers and couples with no children are driving the well being trend, according to Ozeritskaya. They enjoy buying in-season and organic fresh produce products, particularly those with an element of what she describes as “rustic chic.” This includes, for example, Brussels sprouts on the stem or “living salads”.
As its title suggests, the well being group is also health conscious and opts for healthy foods such as broccoli or superfoods like kale. “These foods are ticking boxes for consumers – [they are] nostalgic, nutritious and local,” says Ozeritskaya.
The well being factor is also fuelling the popularity of organic farmers’ markets, especially those in big cities. Consumers who fall into this category are also aware of the need to reduce food waste and are therefore keen to utilise as much of the vegetable (and animal) as possible. “We are already eating flowers from courgettes and squash. Why not also eat the flowers of cabbage and other things?,” she asks.
Convenience (25% of European market value)
This busy group of consumers, including smaller families and single households, doesn’t have much time to cook. Convenience eaters therefore do not tend to prepare their own vegetables and only spend 15 minutes getting dinner ready. Unsurprisingly, they also opt for fresh-cut salads and ready-made juices.
They also like to snack and, reveals Ozeritskaya, UK consumers are actually the biggest snackers in Europe. Fortunately, she says this does not just mean that we are munching away at chocolate bars and crisps because healthy snacks such as vegetables are on the rise.
However, the solutions are just not there yet, she claims. “I cannot imagine myself snacking on broccoli even though it's a healthy snack. There are still not a lot of healthy vending machines out there,” she says.
Value for money (35% of European market value)
Not forgetting that many of us are still on a budget, this group generally goes for bulk offers, larger-sized packets and both fresh and frozen products. They tend, for example, to shop for larger types of tomatoes. Price and offers appeal to them but they do sometimes pay more for good quality or traditional types of products.