In the 12 edition of its “The Why? Behind The Buy” survey, Acosta Inc. found consumers are willing to spend more money and time in an effort to make healthy meals.
“With less stocking of the pantry and greater focus on cooking at home, more shoppers are prioritizing healthy, homemade meals, especially when it comes to feeding their families,” the report concluded.
An estimated 86% of U.S. shoppers reported eating dinner at home four or more days in the past week, with 37% eating dinner at home all seven days in the past week.
Grocery shoppers are making an effort to feed themselves and their families healthier foods, according to survey data, as consumers increasingly opt for natural and organic foods as well as locally sourced products.
Parents are especially thoughtful about their food choices. For example, 51% agreed with the statement: “We eat healthy foods even though they are more expensive.”
Interest in local products across a range of consumer demographics is exemplified by growth in farmers markets across the U.S. According to the USDA, the number of farmers markets has grown more than 350% from 1994 to 2014.
“A trend that sprouted in the restaurant/foodservice industry, locally sourced food has now penetrated the consumer psyche. In our survey, 74% of shoppers said they like that locally sourced products/brands are available and at least occasionally purchase them,” Acosta’s report said. “More than one-third of shoppers reported they often purchase locally sourced products/brands. Purchasing locally sourced foods also appears to be an equal-opportunity behavior with little difference in shopper’s interest across generations, household income or children in the household.”
With many Millennials having children and starting their own families, they are driving several new trends in grocery shopping.
“Parents have more mouths to feed which means a bigger food budget. But it appears today’s parents’ increase in spending may not be simply due to buying more, but also buying more natural and organic products which are often costlier. Parents are also cooking more frequently at home and taking advantage of online grocery ordering to help support their busy, mobile lifestyles.”
The survey showed 41% of parents with kids use online grocery ordering, either for delivery or pick-up at the retailer, at least once a month, compared to 29% of total U.S. shoppers.
Men, especially dads, are shopping more and having more impact on buying patterns than ever before, according to the report. “Due in part to generational differences and economic factors, more U.S. males are spending time grocery shopping. Men suffered the most job losses during the recession, and data indicates that the number of stay-at-home dads continues to grow. Couple that with millennials (and their modern perspective on hands-on parenting) now starting families of their own, and the result is dramatic shifts in the number, frequency and attitude of male grocery shoppers. These guys like to food shop.”
Millennial dads in particular, often having waited longer to get married and have children, are approaching fatherhood without the gender role norms of older generations. “These dads are proactively engaged in child rearing and taking on more household tasks, including grocery shopping,” Acosta said. “In fact, Mintel reports that 80% of millennial dads claim primary or shared grocery shopping responsibility.”
Dads typically spend more, particularly on organic products, and shop more frequently.
The bottom line is that shoppers are being more thoughtful about their food choices and opting for healthier options.
Acosta recommended appealing to shoppers’ more conscious shopping and eating behaviors. “When possible, provide information about the food journey of products—where it was grown or made, how it’s produced, etc. Make recommendations for healthy alternatives in meal preparation. Educate shoppers about local, organic, natural and other food trends.”
A new generation of parents is “hyper-aware” of the connection between diet and health, the report noted. “Help them plan nutritious meals that their kids will actually eat and they will be willing to spend a little more money at the store and more time in the kitchen.”
Lastly, the impact Millennial dads are having can’t be discounted, especially considering they spend more on food monthly than moms.
“Help dads realize value when grocery shopping and leverage digital tools to help them find the best deals. Dads are also grilling well beyond summer. Present healthy grilling meal options with exciting new flavors so they can be the hero at mealtime,” Acosta offered.