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Americans will take a more personal approach to their health and wellness in 2017. For example, they are more apt to use wearable devices that track footsteps and apps that track calories in order to run on their own personal plans to meet their needs, rather than relying on health plans based on averages. Even though dieting is on the decline, "my own diet" is still rising as the most common way consumers take control of their intake, according to The NPD Group's findings from its continual tracking of consumer eating attitudes and behaviors.
Consumer attitudes toward health today have evolved beyond diet, exercise, and the specific attributes – presence or absence—of food items," says Darren Seifer, NPD Group's food and beverage industry analyst. "Now they're looking for personal plans that meet their own specific interests, and more importantly, their lifestyles."
Exercise, for example, is not necessarily increasing as part of the new health and wellness lifestyle, nor are consumers typically losing weight, but from active wear worn to food consumed, consumers are embracing a lifestyle centered on wellness. They're wearing fitness trackers, athleisure apparel and athletic footwear. In many cases their interest in these items is as much looking the part of an active lifestyle as it is actually having one. From an eating behavior standpoint, this lifestyle is about eating "wholesome" food, such as fresh, organic, or non-GMO items. The traditional awareness and avoidance of food containing large amounts of fat or cholesterol is waning, although sugar is still a concern.
In addition to health and wellness, Seifer points out other trends gathering steam:
Sweating the small stuff
It is the little things that are grabbing consumers' attention these days. That means that for restaurateurs there can be small but influential ways to garner loyalty among consumers. American consumers are looking to support brands and companies that do more than just cook food or manufacture a product. They want to support causes and actions aligned with their values. People feel they are doing right when they support companies that are connected to locally sourced ingredients, donate to charities, sustain environmental practices, and safeguard animal welfare.
The future is now
Technology is quickly making its way into how consumers acquire food and beverages because it saves time. Although the use of technology is currently a minor behavior, NPD Group expects to see more people in the coming years use retailers' websites or third-party sites like InstaCart to acquire food and beverages.
Home is where the meal is
Get this: Preparing meals at home is growing more common while also serving alongside those home dishes items which have been bought in restaurants. Those purchased components are more likely to be appetizers or side dishes, indicating consumers use these dishes as quick ways to round out or complete their meals. This is yet another sign that people want freshly prepared items in the home, but without having to spend a great deal of time in the kitchen. This is a true generational shift: younger consumers already consume fresh food at rates higher than older adults did when they were the same age. As these younger consumers age, NPD's forecast shows their demand for freshness in a hurry will only increase.