Continued transformation of food spend forecast in America

Posted by Isobel Drake on 13th July 2009

Personal financial trajectories are reshaping consumer spending on groceries and foodservice, according to Premium Consumers in the New Economy: Food and Foodservice, a new report by market research publisher Packaged Facts.A keener taste for food adventure, elevated health and nutrition consciousness, stronger preferences for organic and natural foods, a heightened sense of ethical consumerism, and a greater propensity for Internet and coupon use are the new normal for a growing number of upscale American consumers. Such psychographic responses to financial change have reshaped ─ and will continue to transform ─ consumer spending on food, according to the report.

Packaged Facts discovered that the direction of financial change matters less than the fact of financial change in shaping consumer mindsets. Therefore, premium consumers* who have taken a financial hit often align in attitudes and behaviour with those on the financial upswing, in contrast to their counterparts whose finances have remained stable.

Premium consumers, though remaining less likely than other consumers to shop at lower cost stores like Walmart supercenters, are nevertheless shifting to such outlets at above-average rates. Specific segments of premium consumers (such as Gen Xers) are discovering that fast food, especially in its healthier incarnations, fits well with their current lifestyles. And premium consumers use coupons more, rather than less, than the rest of the population.

“The economic turmoil that reached crisis level in fall 2008 has been a bull in the china shop of American consumer behaviour, even for a market as fundamental as food,” David Sprinkle, author of the report, advised. “Consumers who have been set back or thrust forward financially are more likely to be rethinking what they need, what they want, and how and where best to find it.”

* Packaged Facts defines premium consumers as either single-person households with an income of at least $75,000, or multiple person households with an income of $100,000 or more.