Emerging Consumers are Disrupting for the Food & Beverage Landscape

July 30, 2018 BY Charles Fallon

20180727 - millennials

This is not the rant of a grey-haired, paunched boss complaining about distracted and indifferent millennials. The youngest members of the LIDD team are incredibly hard-working and committed to creating lasting value for our clients. Still, when it comes to consumption choices, they are like the rest of their generation - different.

Two key features of emerging consumers are creating a slow-roiling revolution in the food industry on the scale of the invention of the supermarket 100 years ago. To illustrate the point, I polled our company and split the results between people under 30 and those of us over 30 (the Quick and the Dead).

Emerging Consumers are digitally native

Emerging consumers have grown up in a world where a smart-phone and ubiquitous internet access are the status quo. They take for granted their ability to execute transactions anywhere and have those transactions conclude in geographically convenient ways.

  • Among LIDDsters, 66% of the under 30s have used UberEats or some similar service. Over 30, that usage drops to 33%.

Retailers and restaurant chains must adapt to the new expectations of these consumers. Otherwise, they will be competing for an ever-shrinking demographic.

Emerging Consumers make consumption choices on broad, highly stringent criteria

Emerging consumers make deeply informed decisions about what food and beverages they consume. In addition to their globalized tastes, these consumers:

  • Want to maximize the health impact of every calorie consumed, steering towards beneficial ingredients and away from harmful ones
  • Consider the supply chain and lifecycle of the product’s packaging as part of their consumer choices

Returning back to my unscientific poll of LIDDsters, 38% of those under 30 have purchased a soft drink in 2018, compared to 89% of those over 30. Emerging consumers have turned their backs on sugary drinks in favor of healthy drinking choices, notably, tap water:

  • 100% of those under 30 have purchased bottled water in 2018. But this was almost universally out of necessity – worried about plastic waste, they will opt for tap water whenever the option is available.

There are folks sprinkled across food and beverage companies who are keenly aware of the problems that these emerging consumers present them. However, efforts to turn those problems into opportunities have been largely lame and lackluster. Mature retailers and CPGs often make sloths look rushed and shad flies look purposeful. Meanwhile, they cede market to young upstart brands born from this generation of emerging consumers.

LIDD can help. We will help our clients execute these strategies at the pace this consumption revolution demands. Reach out, start a conversation and take the steps to stay relevant for the decades to come.