Elusive Foodies Can Be Reached, PF Finds

peope eating foodFoodies are 16% more likely than U.S. adults on average to spend at the highest grocery level ($150 or more per week). Most consider dining out above the fast-food level a hobby--yet many also frequent fast-food restaurants.

In short, according to these and other data from a new study from Packaged Facts, foodies are clearly a desirable target for food and beverage marketers, grocers and restaurants alike. But exactly who are these foodies, and what are the keys to reaching and winning them over?

In "Foodies in the U.S.: Five Cohorts," Packaged Facts defines foodies as adults who "agree a lot" with the Simmons Market Research Bureau national consumer survey lifestyle statement "I like to try new food products," along with one or more of the following statements: "I enjoy eating foreign foods"; "I prefer foods cooked with a lot of spices"; "I look for the freshest ingredients when I cook"; "I try to eat gourmet foods whenever I can"; "I prefer food presented as an art form"; "When shopping for food, I look for organic/natural products."



Using these criteria, 31.2 million--or 14.4% of U.S. adults--qualify as foodies, according to PF. Within this foodie universe, PF identifies five somewhat overlapping main subgroups (listed in order of size): Foreign/Spicy Foodies (71% of foodies), Restaurant Foodies (65%), Foodie Cooks, Foodie Gourmets, and Organic/Natural Foodies.

The foodie culture is "an essentially American phenomenon" that has emerged in reaction to this country's "uniquely malleable and marketer-driven" food culture, say the PF analysts. While other nations or regions have distinct cultures surrounding food and its consumption, the U.S. generally lacks such a culture, and foodies are on a mission to fill this void, they explain.

While many foodies enjoy high-end gourmet food, their distinguishing characteristics as a group have more to do with a penchant for discovering new and preferably "authentic" foods and appreciating the cultures associated with these.

A few highlights from the detailed study of this complex culture:

  • From a marketer's standpoint, foodies can be elusive. They tend to disdain being lumped in with others, and their focus on authenticity "frequently equates to a degree of separation from big food conglomerates and corporate marketing campaigns," notes PF. Their eagerness to experiment makes them receptive to F&B product launches, but their restlessness poses challenges to fostering enduring brand loyalty.
  • Importantly, they are both early adopters/influencers of food and other cultural trends and far more likely than adults on average to seek "expert guidance and reassurance from outside sources or peers in a number of areas"--"suggesting an opening for marketing approaches able to walk that line," point out PF's analysts.
  • Reflecting that dual influencer/influenced dynamic, foodies are avid media consumers, and are unusually aware of advertising in general. Furthermore, on the food marketing front, they index significantly above average across more than a dozen types of media. The Internet tops the list of food shopping media that appeal disproportionately to foodies, who are deeply hooked on exchanging information through this medium, reports PF.
  • While foodies tend to be impulsive shoppers who equate higher prices with quality, they are also unusually apt to be influenced by coupons when it comes to trying new foods. They are big consumers of store-bought prepared meals and big fans of Whole Foods and Trader Joe's, and are embracing traditional grocers that are incorporating "fresh" or more upscale format characteristics, according to PF.
  • At the same time, foodies are above average in agreeing strongly that eating fast food helps them stay within their budgets, and more foodies than adults in general say that they actually prefer fast food to home-cooked. However, PF stresses that their quick-serve restaurant choices include independent venues and chains offering "better for you" and more innovative fare like Chipotle Mexican Grill and Panera Bread, as well as McDonald's and other big burger chains.

Next story loading loading..