Food companies, meet your newest key consumer segment

Changing eating structure, emphasis on simpler and fewer ingredients among the challenges – and opportunities – for food manufacturers says Ipsos VP


Research firm Ipsos has identified an emerging consumer group it says has the potential to help food companies uncover new growth opportunities in a challenging market.

Ipsos has coined the group YEMMies (Young Educated Millennial Moms), and says it is poised to grow from 1.7 million to more than 4 million in the next decade. YEMMies have an average of 29, are better educated, boast more spending power and are not isolated by new motherhood but are connected and engaged.

According to Ipsos, the group has “complex and intersecting needs” for food solutions that are nutritious and convenient.

The group is identified in the company’s syndicated food and beverage consumption trends report Canada CHATS 2015 as being one of the key influencers of changing consumption habits.

Other key trends identified by the report include:

A shift in eating structure

 The report says that consumers place less emphasis on the traditional notion of three square meals a day, instead opting to eat more frequently.

The study found that snacks account for nearly two-thirds (65%) of eating occasions in a typical day, with Ipsos vice-president Kathy Perrottas saying the average person now eats between five and six snacks a day.

Data suggests that nearly a quarter of dinners now take place after 7 p.m., leading to increased daytime snacking as consumers bridge the gap between meals. “The opportunity [for food companies] is to target those multiple occasions that occur with items that meet consumers needs at that time of day,” says Perrotta.

While mornings tend to be about foods that emphasize health and energy, and evenings tend to favour indulgence foods, the afternoon is a “battleground day-part” where neither health nor indulgence is the clear favourite. “There is considerable opportunity for food and beverage manufacturers, where lots of options could appeal to consumers.”

A continuation of the anti-artificial movement

Consumers continue to become increasingly educated and savvy about the food and options available to them, using a wide variety of information sources to develop “mindful” choices says Ipsos.

The research study found that nearly two-thirds (63%) of adult consumers now read the nutrition facts table to determine ingredient profiles, while more than 75% say they have encountered a special label on products they have purchased.

Consumers continue to identify calories as the most important piece of information on the nutrition table. They also have fewer concerns over fat compared to last year, and indicate that eating less processed foods is critical to a healthy diet.

The movement has created a “convergence of need” that poses a challenge for consumer-packaged goods companies, says Perrotta.

“Consumers want it convenient and available and portable, but they want it to have fewer ingredients and know where it comes from. It’s really challenging for manufacturers to meet this plethora of needs, but those who do are going to be the winners.”

Simpler, fewer and less

The study says that consumers are moving away from “reactive” eating that addresses preferences such as low sugar and low fat or conditions such as high blood pressure, to eating “real foods” that contain simpler and fewer ingredients and are less processed.

While this is not a leading driver of consumer habits, it is the fastest growing, says Perrotta.

Nearly a quarter of consumers (22%) say they were motivated to consume food or drink item with simpler and fewer ingredients, more than double the number from the previous year.