NPD Update: State of the U.S. Consumer

NPD Update: State of the U.S. Consumer

November 28, 2018
Annette Maggi
Retail Industry Insights

By RDBA Executive Director, Annette Maggi, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

During a recent symposium in Minneapolis, NPD staff shared insights on today's consumers, and how their habits impact the food industry.  Key insights and implications for the work of retail dietitians are highlighted here.

InsightSpending is Shifting.  People are buying fewer consumable items and are investing in making memories, shifting their spending to experiences.  At the same time, they have less money for retail purchases as their committed spending has increased.  While committed spend has always included items like mortgages, utilities, groceries, and child care, today it has expanded to include items such as Costco and Stitch Fix memberships, meal kit and Netflix subscriptions, and safety measures like Lifelock. 

  • Retail RD Implications:  Consider programs that offer shoppers an experience and the ability to make memories, helping them justify the spend on your services and at your retailer.  Some examples include weight management boot camp classes that brides and their bridesmaids can take together, dad-and-kid cooking classes, support groups, or book clubs where all the books are related to food. 

InsightLife Stage is Different than Age.  Based on media headlines and trends, it's easy to believe that Millennials eat out more often than any other generation.  In reality, restaurant consumption peaks during the late 20s and early 30s, and then starts to lessen.  While Millennials eat out 240 times a year on average, this is lower than Baby Boomers, who ate out 260 times a year when they were the age of today's Millennials.  

  • Retail RD Implications:  As Millennials age into their 30s, plan for their in-home preparation of meals to increase.  Work with your chefs and deli colleagues to ensure healthier grab-and-go options that are restaurant quality are available and prominently promoted.  Plan cooking classes and recipe bunkers focused on international flavors in meals that can be assembled rather than cooked.

InsightToday's Workforce is Restructuring.  New technology and shifting priorities are driving the rise of an "on demand" work force.  For example, Uber has more than 900,000 drivers in the US, Etsy has 1.2 million artists, and Airbnb offers 600,000 locations in this country.  This change is driving fluidity in food and beverages.  Not only has the time of lunch changed, but also what constitutes lunch has evolved.

  • Retail RD Insight:  In social media, showcase how multiple healthy snacks from varying food groups can be combined for one meal or mini-meals between appointments.  Near coffee bars or in convenience stores, offer a refrigerated bunker of healthy grab-and-go lunch and snacks that shoppers can grab in the morning to eat later in the day.