2023 FMCG Report: Consumer Trends in the US for the Food & Beverage Sector
Understanding what consumers are eating, drinking and buying not only tells us what works and what doesn’t, but it inspires the creation of their next food or drink obsession.
Learning about their motivations, preferences, and purchasing patterns, helps companies tailor their strategies, develop targeted marketing campaigns, and create products that resonate with their target audience and anticipate trends, identify emerging opportunities, and stay ahead of the competition.
In the fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) industry, where consumer tastes and demands evolve rapidly, it is vital to keep a finger on the pulse of the market.
In order to help you do that, Appinio just launched its new FMCG Report, providing you with comprehensive insights to navigate the ever-changing consumer landscape in the US.
We have asked our consumer panel everything about their lifestyles, dietary choices, grocery shopping behavior, supermarkets brand awareness and new trends in the food and drink industry.
Our survey gives you an overview of the US market, offering a wealth of information that businesses can leverage to make informed decisions and formulate effective strategies.
💡Skip the queue and head to the self-checkout! Download the US Appinio FMCG: Food & Beverage Report for free!
Contrary to popular belief, not everyone is vegan (they are just very good at PR).
Appinio's research indicates that only 1.6% of Americans follow a vegan diet.
The majority, accounting for 80%, identify as omnivores, consuming both meat and plant-based foods.
Other dietary choices include:
- 10% of respondents identify as flexitarians, occasionally incorporating meat and/or fish into their primarily plant-based diet.
- 3% follow a vegetarian diet, abstaining from meat but occasionally consuming other animal products like cheese or milk.
- 3% consider themselves a pescatarian, excluding meat but incorporating fish into their meals.
Nevertheless, vegan products, such as milk and meat substitutes, are invading supermarket shelves. How is this possible when the number of people who identify as vegans is still quite low?
The Appinio FMCG has the answers: consumers are getting curious and meat-eaters are becoming more conscious of what they eat.
- 34% have bought a plant-based alternative to milk in the past 6 months
- 28% have tried a meat substitute in the last 6 months
- One in three Americans (26%) is actively reducing their meat intake in the last 6 months
It is clear from these stats that dietary preferences are changing and the demand for vegan products has grown as more people seek alternatives to animal-based foods and 35% of Americans imagine becoming vegetarians in the future, 24% even imagine following a vegan diet!
Dietary Choices: Beyond Veganism
Those trying to eat less meat are doing so because:
- Health concerns: (58%) Many consumers are becoming more aware of the potential health benefits associated with plant-based diets, such as lower risks of heart disease, certain cancers, and obesity.
- Money saving: (45%) reducing, eliminating or replacing meat with lower-cost alternatives like legumes, lentils, tofu, or tempeh, can potentially lower grocery bills.
- Do grocery less often: (28%) Some consumers choose vegan products due to practical reasons, replacing meat with pulses or legumes can indeed reduce trips to the supermarket.
These diverse dietary preferences among American consumers showcase how businesses can cater to various segments within the FMCG industry and have a profound impact on their shopping behavior and the development of new food and drink products.
Understanding these preferences allows businesses to tailor their offerings to meet the needs and desires of different consumer segments. In the following sections, we will further explore the shopping habits, preferences, and implications of these dietary choices within the FMCG landscape in the US.
How do Americans go grocery shopping?
What kind of grocery shopping person are you?
Do you write a thorough list? Do you get all your coupons ready? Or do you want to check out what’s on the shelf and let inspiration (or hunger) do the trick?
Whatever type you are, one thing is sure: all of us need to get groceries, whether we like it or not.
Grocery shopping is actually considered a somewhat pleasant experience by 69% of Americans.
However, around 31% don’t enjoy strolling around the aisles with a creaky cart and the most common reasons are:
- The bill: financial worries are often cited as the main reason for their discomfort, mentioned by 41% of respondents.
- The lack of time: 27% mention a lack of time for grocery shopping.
- The time spent searching for the right products: spending longer than anticipated in a supermarket because they can’t find the desired product is a real pain for 25% of US respondents.
But a Dogg’s gotta eat, right?
When it comes to the shopping habits of American consumers:
- 44% exclusively shop in-store
- 38% primarily shop in-store and to some extent on online stores
- 15% primarily shop on online stores and party in-store
- And 3% shop exclusively on online stores for groceries
When compared to German and British consumers, Americans are the most likely to be shopping online to some extent to fix their grocery shopping.
However, 74% still prefer an offline grocery shopping experience, emphasizing the importance of physical stores in the FMCG landscape.
In terms of frequency, the majority of Americans (42%) stick to a weekly grocery shopping trip, while 25% make multiple trips per week.
And most Americans (64%) spend between $50 and $100 on their average shopping cart.
Favorite Supermarkets: What Sets Them Apart?
Among the various supermarket choices in the US, Kroger emerges as the favorite among Americans.
According to American respondents, Kroger's popularity can be attributed to several factors, like
- long opening hours (29% of respondents),
- a great selection of brand products (28%),
- fair pricing (27%),
- a wide variety of products (25%),
- and excellent customer service (22%).
Other consumers favorites are:
- Whole Foods (14%)
- Trader Joe’s (12%)
- Publix (11%)
Moreover, a perfect supermarket should meet the following criteria:
- Nearly three quarters 74% want to experience a pleasant store environment, shelves should be well stocked, the store should be well lit, clean and tidy, no loud music please!
- 70% prioritize a good variety of products, in order to avoid making trips to different supermarkets (and spending even more)
- 66% instead value proximity, whether close to their house or their workplace, this desire highlights the need of consumers to always be in the vicinity of their favorite store in case they forget something or they want to optimize their time and pop into Tesco before going home for the day.
- And almost two thirds (63%) of Americans stated that offering reduced prices and promotions influence how they pick their favorite supermarket.
Emerging trend: NoLo Beverages
The rise of NoLo (Non and Low) alcoholic beverages is shaping the FMCG industry in the US.
Let's explore this trend, consumer attitudes and preferences toward NoLo beverages, and the implications it holds for businesses in the market.
NoLo beverages are non-alcoholic or low-alcohol alternatives that cater to individuals seeking a more mindful drinking experience.
This trend has gained momentum as consumers increasingly prioritize health, moderation, and conscious consumption.
At the forefront of the sober sipping movement are Gen Z, the next generation is not impressed with alcohol and “they’re more risk averse.They have a nuanced understanding of how drinking impacts their health and that of people around them. Consequently, a youth culture that has de-normalised drinking is flourishing – and the change is being felt. As Gen Z reshapes the idea of a ‘good night out’ and often socialises without drinking, the trade and hospitality industries are moving fast to adapt.” (Source: BBC)
Among the American population, 52% consume alcoholic beverages.
However, we can observe the shift first hand: 23% of respondents indicate that they used to drink alcohol but have now stopped, while 25% abstain from alcohol altogether.
The younger the respondents, the more likely they have stopped drinking or they don’t drink at all.
NoLo Beverages Awareness
Awareness of NoLo drinks is still low but it’s growing, with
- 62% of the respondents being aware of low-alcohol and non-alcoholic beers
- 59% being aware non-alcoholic cocktails,
- 47% for both NoLo wines and spirits.
These figures indicate a growing interest in exploring certain alternative options (e.g. low-alcohol and non-alcoholic beers and mocktails) within the beverage industry.
NoLo Beverages purchase intention
When it comes to consumer willingness to purchase NoLo alternatives, around one in 6 express openness to buying such products. Specifically, 23% of respondents are (very) likely to buy mocktails, showcasing a strong demand for flavorful non-alcoholic options.
The emergence of NoLo beverages presents both challenges and opportunities for FMCG businesses in the US.
By recognising and capitalizing on the increasing consumer interest in healthier and more mindful drinking choices, businesses can develop innovative NoLo products that cater to this growing market segment.
This includes investing in the research and development of alcohol-free or low-alcohol beverages, promoting awareness and education around NoLo options, and ensuring a diverse range of flavorful and satisfying alternatives.
Guilty Pleasures: Hyper-Processed Foods
Hyper-processed foods have become a significant part of many consumers' diets.
But what are they?
Hyper-processed foods undergo extensive processing and are typically manufactured with industrial methods, and often contain multiple ingredients, including additives, preservatives, and synthetic substances.
Examples include packaged snacks, sugary beverages, ready-to-eat meals, processed meats, and sweetened breakfast cereals.
These foods contain high levels of saturated fat, salt and sugar, therefore they should be consumed sparingly.
However, despite increasing awareness of the importance of a balanced diet, a significant portion of consumers continue to indulge in hyper-processed foods, especially because these foods are very convenient and can solve many needs, e.g. fixing a meal quickly and easily, feeling uninspired when cooking, or just satisfy sugary and salty cravings.
Our Appinio FMCG Report revealed that 53% of respondents have kept their consumption of hyper-processed foods stable in the last 6 months, while 32% have been actively trying to decrease it.
Surprisingly, 23% have actually increased their consumption of these convenience-driven food products.
Most Popular Hyper-Processed Food Choice
Certain hyper-processed foods have gained popularity and become staples in many individuals' diets.
For instance, our survey data shows that 25% of respondents consume sodas and energy drinks on a daily basis.
White bread and other packaged breads were found to be consumed daily by 15% of participants. Additionally, 12% mentioned consuming sweetened breakfast cereals daily.
The popularity of white bread and other bread packaged products could be justified by the fact that bread is a pantry staple of many people and many cultures, and that’s why it’s so easy for people to be eating them on a regular basis.
Understanding the Factors that Drive Consumer Preferences in this Category
Various factors contribute to consumer preferences for hyper-processed foods, despite their potential negative impact on health.
- Convenience is a key driver, as these foods are easily accessible, require minimal preparation, and fit into fast-paced lifestyles.
- The affordability of hyper-processed foods compared to fresh, whole foods is another influential factor, especially for budget-conscious consumers.
- The taste and addictive nature of these foods, often due to their high sugar, salt, and fat content, can also play a role in their continued consumption.
Survey findings indicate that American consumers are aware of the negative health implications of hyper-processed foods.
In fact, 49% of respondents (strongly) agree that these foods have a detrimental effect on health.
Moreover, 57% (strongly) agree that making healthier, less processed food more affordable would lead to a decrease in the consumption of hyper-processed foods. This highlights the desire among consumers for accessible and affordable healthier options.
Additionally, 38% of respondents strongly agree that raising awareness about the negative aspects of hyper-processed foods would contribute to a decrease in their consumption. Consumers think that education and promoting informed decision-making are a must when it comes to food choices.
Offering healthier alternatives with clean ingredient profiles, promoting the affordability and accessibility of nutritious options, and engaging in educational campaigns to raise awareness about the potential health risks associated with excessive consumption of hyper-processed foods could turn out to be a winning strategy for businesses operating in the FMCG industry.
Collaboration with health professionals, influencers, and organizations dedicated to promoting balanced diets could also be beneficial in driving positive changes in consumer behavior.
Understanding consumer behavior is vital for business success in the FMCG industry. Leveraging consumer insights allows businesses to tailor their strategies, develop targeted marketing campaigns, and create products that resonate with their target audience.
We have explored consumers' lifestyles and dietary choices, discovering the impact of these choices on shopping behavior.
Additionally, we delved into favorite supermarkets, emerging trends such as NoLo beverages, and the indulgence in hyper-processed foods.
The survey findings have highlighted the importance of considering diverse dietary preferences, the need for convenient shopping experiences, and the growing interest in healthier and more mindful choices.
Understanding consumer preferences and needs, and adapting to evolving trends enables companies to increase customer loyalty, winning new customers, stay ahead of the competition, and, ultimately, drive business growth.
Armed with these insights, businesses have the opportunity to make informed decisions, develop customer-centric strategies, and thrive in this highly competitive market.
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