MADISON, Wis. — A new cultural mix is reshaping the retail food market, according to a new report from the International Dairy-Deli-Bakery Association (IDDBA). The burgeoning U.S. Hispanic population and single-person households are steadfast forces in the retail food arena, while active baby boomers and newly empowered millennials are also a mushrooming presence in the market.
The U.S. Hispanic population was responsible for more than half of the increase in U.S. population from 2000 to 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau reported. That population growth will continue amid higher birth rates and steady immigration from this group. Hispanic buying power hit $1 trillion in 2010, and is set for a 25-percent climb to $1.5 trillion by 2015, according to The Multicultural Economy report from the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business.
Hispanic households spend more on groceries than the general population and tend to have larger families with nearly twice as many children younger than 18. Hispanic consumers are also more alert to in-store promotions and less affected by advertising and product placements.
Singles are another flourishing demographic. Single-person households have tripled in the last 30 years to 27 percent of U.S. households, outnumbering those of married couples with children, according to the Census Bureau. People are marrying later, if at all. And 45 percent of seniors are single. The count of single households could see another boost as the economy rebounds, if adult children living at home venture out on their own. For these reasons, single-serving packages and packages with fewer servings can cater to a sizeable market, noted the IDDBA report, entitled “What’s in Store 2012.”
Mature populations, notably active baby boomers, are staying in the workforce beyond retirement age. Many are accustomed to an active lifestyle that requires steady income; some lack retirement savings. Compared to other generations, boomers account for the largest share of sales across most product categories. Boomers break stereotypes of conservative older consumers, as they are more active and health conscious than ever before, and seek shopping destinations that stock fresh, healthful foods.
Millennials, born between 1981 and 1995, have 11 percent more buying power than baby boomers did in their youth, according to a recent study. They spend considerable time and effort researching prospective purchases and ferreting out deals. Perhaps this is because they came of age during the recession and are more inclined to be frugal. Millennial consumers are most often identified as tech-savvy, yet 57 percent of them hear about products and services for the first time via television, Yahoo! survey data showed. Millennials crave authenticity, self-expression, affordability and quality in their product choices, according to IDDBA.
Men continue to shop more for their families as many males have been left jobless by the stagnant economy. Fifty-one percent of men said they are the primary shopper in the family, according to Advertising Age. In effect, product marketing is now more gender neutral, rather than being aimed at stay-at-home moms.
The female consumer demographic is also shifting noticeably. Women continue to assume a more assertive gender role, particularly in the workforce. They’re not necessarily married or mothers — no matter their age — and bear children later in life than ever before, if at all. Women’s evolving social stratification alters the marketing and merchandising outlook for retailers. Advertisements are now more gender neutral, and products for women of child-bearing age are not necessarily geared toward the wedded mother.
IDDBA is a non-profit membership organization serving the dairy, deli, bakery, cheese and supermarket foodservice industries.