Taste, price and convenience are no longer the sole deciding factors when people buy food and beverages, according to a new study from Deloitte, the Food Marketing Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association. The study, “Capitalizing on the shifting consumer food value equation,” found that roughly half of Americans surveyed (51 percent) weigh evolving drivers—health and wellness, safety, social impact, experience, and transparency—in their purchasing decisions, in addition to the traditional drivers of taste, price and convenience.
“The research reveals that the preference for these attributes does not differ by generation, income level or region, but is pervasive across these groups. The U.S. consumer has changed in a fundamental way, and people's preferences are becoming even more fragmented than the food industry may have anticipated,” said Jack Ringquist, principal, global consumer products leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP.
Shift in Thinking About Food Safety
The study also showed a shift in the way people think about food safety. Americans no longer define the concept of food safety based on near-term risks to their health, according to the study. Instead, nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of consumers in Deloitte's "2015 consumer food value equation" survey believe that a definition of food safety limited to "one that will not cause any immediate, physical harm" is insufficient. Consumers now link health, wellness and transparency with their definition of safety, and include factors such as free from harmful ingredients (62 percent), clear and accurate labeling (51 percent) and fewer ingredients, processing, and nothing artificial (42 percent).
The study addresses several implications of the shifting value equation for the food and beverage industry, including:
- Consumer tastes and preferences will continue to fragment;
- Retailers' role influencing consumer purchase decisions will continue to increase;
- Smaller, newer companies will leverage new technologies, third party relationships and improve engagement to earn consumer trust;
- Larger competitors within the industry will adjust to fulfill new, unique value propositions; and
- Market success will be determined by building purpose-driven competitive advantages.
For the full report, visit “Capitalizing on the shifting consumer food value equation.”
About the Study
Deloitte, along with FMI and GMA, conducted a year-long research effort in 2015 that included:
- A survey of 5,000 consumers nationwide;
- Interviews with executives from over 40 companies across retailers, food and beverage manufacturers, ingredient suppliers and agricultural producers; and
- FMI, GMA and Deloitte secondary research.