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Food & Beverage Consumers: An Updated Portrait

21 Feb 2020 Elizabeth McHugh

in Food & Beverage, Health & Wellness, Strategy

Consumers have more power than ever before—and more options. For this reason, here we offer the top consumer behaviors that are sparking change in the food and beverage space. Wellness and sustainability are now core movements, not trends, and have shaped many of the emerging behaviors listed here.


  1. “Local” sparks spending. When asked which food and drink claims they would pay more for, consumers ranked “supports American farmers” and “made with local ingredients” in first place, both at 41%. Generationally, these claims were most important to 18-to-34-year-olds, indicating that brands with local claims have longevity.
  2. Younger shoppers are also creating space for smaller food and beverage brands. 62% of 18-to-34-year-olds feel that smaller brands have more personality, as compared to only 31% of consumers over 55. Smaller brands are also more authentic to 35% of the 18-to-34 set than national/name brands.
  3. Ingredient minimalism now has the attention of the vast majority—71% of consumers feel that fresh options are more nutritious than processed foods.
  4. Sugar is the trending villain. When reading nutritional labels, consumers look for total sugar first (52%), followed by calories per serving (48%), and total fat (44%). In fact, consumers are looking for outright elimination; no added sugar is the top desired nutritional claim.
  5. Awareness around microbiomes is skyrocketing. Whereas in 2017 only 11% of consumers said they ate fermented foods for digestion, now 57% agree that they try and eat foods that are healthy for their gut/microbiome.
  6. Older Americans are not into defining their diets. 63% of those over 65 don’t define the way that they eat, a sharp contrast to the 72% of 18-to-24-year-olds that do. Balance is something most everyone agrees on, with 80% of consumers saying that healthy eating is defined by balance, rather than restrictions.
  7. Millennials are driving plant-based and organic. 60% of 25-to-34-year-olds feel that plant-based foods are more nutritious than animal-based ones, while 66% of that same demographic believe that organic is healthier than non-organic.
  8. Water consumption is the top health and wellness goal for 2020: 71% of consumers want to continue drinking more water this year, 21% want to start doing so, and only 8% say that is not a goal of theirs.
  9. (Almost) everyone snacks. 94% of consumers are snackers and the primary goals are to snack for energy and to maintain a healthy lifestyle (both 48%).
  10. Start ‘em young: less cemented in routines and habits, younger shoppers are slightly more inclined toward impulse purchases. A few data points that highlight this:
    • 40% of 18-to-34-year-olds stick with familiar brands 51% of consumers 55+
    • 33% of 18-to-34-year-olds look for new brands to try 19% of consumers 55+
    • 29% of 18-to-34-year-olds often make impulse purchases 51% of consumers 55+
    • Only 35% of 18-to-34-year-olds generally stick to their grocery shopping plan 57% of consumers 55+


At Stella Rising, our deep focus on consumers, paired with best-in-class strategy, media, and digital marketing, powers brands in the CPG space. Ready to rise to the top? Connect with us today.

Additional Sources: Mintel, Challenger Brands—US—January 2020; Consumer Approach to Nutrition—US—January 2020; Health Management Trends—US—January 2020

Food & Beverage Health & Wellness Strategy