New research reveals even America’s healthiest eaters cave into indulgences based on their emotional states. Forty percent of U.S. food-brand lovers who rated their daily diet as extremely healthy agreed with the statement, “When I’m feeling down, I eat something indulgent to make me feel better.” The study, conducted by full-service food branding agency, Foodmix Marketing Communications, breaks out a large group of brand lovers into smaller, differentiated and more actionable consumer segments.
The proclivity to indulge happens in spite of the healthiest eaters’ rigorous attention to how they eat in their majority lifestyles. Most (70 percent) care a lot about how their food is produced, and make sure to look for cleaner labels when food shopping (69 percent). Most (57 percent) purchase more expensive organic over non-organic food. Most (53 percent) are highly attuned to food news, and are among the first to react to food warnings and new nutritional recommendations. As to their favorite branded food product? Yes, most of them choose a health food over comfort foods and tasty treats.
So what gives? In a food culture where most Americans are trying to eat healthier, the findings show that America’s love affair with indulgent foods has reached even the most disciplined group of eaters. It’s likely that members of this group need to give themselves “permission” to indulge, and may in fact turn indulgence food into a sort of self-care. Instead of hitting the gym after a bad day, many of these normally super-healthy eaters are hitting the refrigerator or nearest restaurant for an indulgent treat.
“For those in the food business, the takeaway is that consumers’ need to indulge has permeated the food culture, and is unlikely to diminish any time soon,” said Bill Sherman, director of research at Foodmix Marketing Communications. “Even organic supermarkets and health-oriented restaurants should offer some indulgent foods, perhaps in smaller portions, to capitalize on the growing indulgent factor in America’s food culture.”
The newly released study builds off 2016 market research also conducted by Foodmix Marketing Communications to learn about consumers who love food brands. The 2016 Foodmix Marketing Communications Brand Love Attributes and Usage Study uncovered the extent to which consumers love food brands, the feelings and emotions that drive brand love, and the ways in which brand love impacts consumers’ marketplace behaviors. The new study used a needs-based segmentation methodology to create six segments of brand lovers based on their unique combination of attitudes, preferences and behaviors.
“We believe that the food renaissance—in which food is becoming a central part of our culture and being used by consumers to help define themselves —is driven by consumers who are passionate about food,” said Dan O’Connell, CEO at Foodmix Marketing Communications. “For food companies, foodservice operators, and food retailers and distributors, we believe that the most desirable consumers are those most passionate about food brands. That’s because these brand lovers behave in ways that directly impact a company’s bottom line. Compared to other consumers, they are more loyal, more resistant to competitive offers and more likely to try brand extensions. They are also more willing to pay a premium and to advocate for your brand.”