Mid-Decade Musings on Consumer Behavior
Mary Ellen Kuhn
It’s become a seasonal ritual to mark the end of one year and the beginning of the next with “Top 10” lists, which catalog everything from movies, songs, news events and more. For marketers and retailers of candy and snacks the “Top 10 Consumer ‘Mega-Trends’” list assembled by Datamonitor plc for its “Global Consumer Trends” report is worth checking out. Here’s a peek at some of the trends with potential applications to the candy/snacks business.
Age complexity. You may have observed this one in your own family. Or perhaps you saw last month’s Time magazine article on “the twixters,” described by the magazine as “a new breed of young people” (ages 24 to 28), who have opted not to settle into a routine when it comes to jobs, relationships or even their residences.  
Datamonitor’s examples of  “age complexity” include the fact that many 12-year-olds have an “aspirational age” of 17, while plenty of adults behave like teen-agers. Certainly candy and snacks marketers may find some niche opportunities targeting demographic segments ranging from “twixters” to baby boomers trying to recapture their youth.
Income complexity. Datamonitor observes that consumers are curbing  spending in one area so they can splurge in another. Thus, we’re seeing strong growth in value-oriented dollar stores and limited-selection supermarkets like Aldi, but at the same time the luxury goods market is flourishing.
According to Datamonitor, U.S. consumers spent $7.5 billion on premium treats and comfort foods in 2003, and that spending is expected to climb by 34 percent to $10 billion in 2008. The retail channels that flourish will be those that do the best job of delivering value to the consumer—either via competitive pricing or merchandise assortment and selection—or both!
Convenience.  I’ve been covering the business of marketing food for almost two decades now, and I can’t remember a time when convenience wasn’t a major issue. Datamonitor points out that the pace of life is only going to get faster, which means more grazing and an increased demand for quick-fix food. According to Datamonitor, Americans skipped an average of 62 breakfasts per year in 2003, and this total will rise to nearly 70 missed morning meals per person by 2008. Also by Datamonitor’s calculation, Americans spent $6.3 billion for “on-the-go” snacks in 2003, and this figure is expected to increase by 30 percent to $8.2 billion within the next several years.
You can find more information on the report at www.datamonitor.com.

Confectioner’s Category Handbook
As you turn the pages of this issue, you may notice that it looks a bit different than our regular issues. That’s because it’s our annual Category Handbook, which is designed to serve as a resource, with a hands-on, tips-oriented approach. Sources aren’t included within the articles, but we couldn’t pull this issue together without input from many, many knowledgeable industry players. You’ll find a listing of those sources on page 10. We are truly grateful for the time and information they shared.