Specialty Food Magazine

Summer 2019

Specialty Food Magazine is the leading publication for retailers, manufacturers and foodservice professionals in the specialty food trade. It provides news, trends and business-building insights that help readers keep their businesses competitive.

Issue link: https://www.e-digitaleditions.com/i/1119718

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Page 3 of 155

EDITOR'S LETTER The Eye-Opening Reach of Gen-X SUMMER 2019 1 SPECIALTY FOOD ASSOCIATION MEMBERS: Discuss this topic in the Solution Center on specialtyfood.com W e Gen-Xs are suddenly becoming more important to you. Denise Purcell Editor, Specialty Food Magazine dpurcell@specialtyfood.com After several years of talking about the young mil- lennial consumer's role in the future of specialty food, a nu- anced picture is emerging of the core specialty food consumer. According to the Specialty Food Association's latest "State of the Specialty Food Industry" research—an annual report done in collaboration with Mintel that is highlighted in this issue starting opposite p. 104—consumers ages 35 – 54 are the core specialty food audience, and it's mature millenni- als and younger Gen-Xs that are at the heart of it. While mil- lennials still rank the highest in terms of purchasing specialty foods, Gen-Xs report buying across the most categories. It's not too difficult to understand the logic behind these groups' prominence. They are both in their prime earning years and household income has a lot to do with specialty food shopping. Income aside, Gen-Xs' engagement itself has been under- appreciated. In their late 20s and 30s this group was among a first wave of committed specialty food consumers, early adopters of specialty/organic/natural/premium foods, and was among the core consumer demographic when the State of the Specialty Food Industry research launched in the early aughts. They've aged to be strong consumers across categories and proponents of organic, locally-sourced, plant-based, ethi- cal, and sustainable products. Still, the results from this year's consumer survey were a bit eye-opening. With the focus on younger consumers as core shoppers in recent years, we expected to see Gen-Z (adults ages 18 – 24) continue to rise in rankings, providing the prom- ising scenario of a continuing stream of engaged consumers who will be specialty food shoppers for many decades to come. Signs indicate that we'll get there although Gen-Zs lag as purchasers, according to this year's results. It's early days for this group as they grow into adulthood. In fact, as Min- tel points out, the population is literally changing each year as more of them become age 18+ and therefore are allowed inclu- sion in the State of the Industry survey. The good news is that, attitudinally, they align with strong specialty food consumers. The youngest of the Gen-Zs is age 12 in 2019 and there's no doubt a lot of eyes will be on how this generation develops as a specialty food consumer group. But why am I talking so much about them in a letter that I said was about Gen-X? Be- cause I expect the latter's behaviors and drivers to become even more noteworthy. After all, just as there are similarities be- tween millennials and their boomer parents we've been track- ing for years, as Gen-Zs grow up their consumer habits and attitudes are inf luenced and impacted by their parents—who by and large are Gen-Xs. Understanding and maintaining the interest of these 40- and 50-somethings has implications for future consumers of specialty food.

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