February 16, 2012
At the Winter Fancy Food Show, marketing research firm Packaged Facts gave a presentation that showed who, based on their extensive research, was buying specialty foods these days. So with that, let’s introduce you to Ashley as she is most likely your target customer.
“Ashley” as I’m calling her, represents the stereotypical artisan food customer these days. Based on the information Packaged Facts shared with attendees, the most dedicated buyers of specialty foods these days are college educated females between the ages of 24 and 34. These women have a higher than average household income of $75-$99,000 as opposed to the 2011 US median household income, as reported by Sentier Research, of approximately $50,000.
These consumers also tend to be the most likely to be drawn to products that have a sustainable marketing edge as they are likely focused on sustainability (ie, recycling, composting, etc) in their own lives. While these “Ashleys” look for products that claim to be all-natural, organic, artisan, and/or locally-sourced, simply slapping one of those terms on a product won’t go far with this crowd if you can’t back it up.
That’s because they are a very informed consumer who is passionate about food. Two-thirds of specialty food consumers watch cooking shows (as opposed to just half of all other consumers) and they’re watching a lot of it – over four hours a week. And when not watching cooking they’re likely to be talking about it online. These consumers are highly engaged with the internet and spend several hours daily online for personal use. Nearly three-quarters of specialty food consumers reported talking or learning about food from Facebook and they’re not afraid to share what they’ve learned so you want to make sure your product is actually sustainable if that’s what you’re marketing.
While the “Ashleys” are the ones who buy specialty foods the most, it should be noted that on the whole consumers are purchasing more specialty and artisan foods than ever before – 59% of people reported purchasing special foods in the last six months – with categories like chocolate, olive oil, cheese, cakes, and jams leading the way.