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Meeting Demands of Today’s Increasingly Health-conscious Shoppers

By Colin Stewart, senior VP, Acosta

Healthy eating appears to be anything but a passing fad as consumers say they are willing to spend slightly more money on healthier foods and put in more time and effort to make healthy meals. Consumers – especially parents – are seeking out organic, natural and locally sourced groceries when they shop. In fact, the global sales of healthy food products are estimated to reach $1 trillion by 2017, according to Euromonitor. Retailers are recognizing this growing demand and healthy foods such as natural and organic products are no longer confined to specialty or premium markets.

Acosta’s 12th edition of "The Why? Behind The Buy" report explores these and many other trends, which largely point to the fact that conscious eating is edging out convenient and cheap as top of mind for shoppers. Specifically, our research found:

  • Eating healthy trumps cost as more shoppers willingly spend more on good-for-you foods. More shoppers are prioritizing healthy, homemade meals, especially when it comes to feeding their families. Forty-four percent of U.S. shoppers said they eat healthy foods even though they’re more expensive, significantly higher than the 39 percent of shoppers who agreed with that statement in spring 2014.
  • Keeping pantries fully stocked is a thing of the past. While shoppers replace items they run out of and need, they are increasingly less likely to stockpile, even those items they use frequently. Although 70 percent of U.S. shoppers said they stocked up on certain items because they were on sale, this is a 10 percent decrease from the 80 percent who agreed in 2012.
  • Consumers show strong interest in preparing more meals at home. With an increased focus on healthy eating and choosing healthier food options, two-thirds of shoppers with kids (and six in 10 U.S. shoppers) report they are cooking more meals at home.
  • Male shopper influence is growing. Male grocery shoppers, especially dads, are shopping more and having more impact on grocery shopping behaviors than ever before as a result of a shift in generational and economic factors. Dad shoppers spend significantly more on monthly grocery trips ($383.70) as compared to total U.S. shoppers ($320.70) and male shoppers without kids ($277.30).

What Does It Mean For Retailers?

As consumers continue to take an interest in healthier eating and the origins of their food, retailers and brands alike have a tremendous opportunity to further educate shoppers about the benefits of organic, natural and locally sourced foods. By focusing their product selection and marketing approach to meet the preferences of many of today’s shoppers, retailers have the potential to retain and better serve their current customers, while appealing to new customers and, ultimately, boost their sales.

Retailers should also leverage in-store communications, online and mobile tools that make it easier for shoppers to create healthy meal solutions. This can be anything from assisting with meal planning and suggesting healthy food substitutes to offering meal preparation ideas, shopping lists and recipe ideas.

Additionally, given the growth of the dad shopper segment and its increased influence and responsibility in food shopping, it’s important for retailers to implement ways to help dads successfully meet the needs of their families.

The Bottom Line

Today’s consumers are more educated, savvy and hyper-aware of the connection between eating well and overall health for themselves and their families. They are curious and thoughtful about their food choices and will look to retailers to provide them with more healthy choices and products, as well as to help them differentiate among various options.

Retailers should see these behavioral shifts as opportunities to increase loyalty among existing customers, draw in new customers and grow their business.

Colin Stewart is senior VP at Acosta, the sales and marketing firm behind many brands seen in stores every day. Stewart leads the Center of Shared Business Intelligence to uncover and analyze market data, identify shopping behaviors and provide insightful strategies to help clients build growth.

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