Foodies in the U.S.: Five Cohorts: Foreign/Spicy, Restaurant, Cooks, Gourmet and Organic/Natural

Jan 1, 2009
442 Pages - Pub ID: LA1653977
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For food aficionados, food offers much more than nourishment. It offers a framework through which they can build relationships, make new friends, explore the world and even examine which behaviors are ethical. They use food to define who they are in greater society. The term foodie, which first appeared in the early 1980s, has entered the English language to describe this new type of food lover and a surrounding new culture of food. Foodies are distinct from gourmets in that their interests tend to be more wide ranging. Foodies enjoy high-end gourmet food, to be sure, but they also seek out hole-in-the-wall BBQ shacks, taco trucks and Chinatown markets. Foodies enjoy the thrill of the hunt and being the first to catch on to new food trends, and food outlets considered “authentic” carry the most prestige in the foodie world. As authenticity frequently equates to a degree of separation from big food conglomerates and corporate marketing campaigns, foodies can be an elusive target for marketers. At the same time, foodies are a desirable demographic, as they are avid, tech-savvy consumers who embrace all sorts of trends, not just those that are food-related, and who introduce these trends to their communities and peers.

Through an analysis of selected lifestyle statements in Simmons Market Research Bureau’s national consumer survey, Packaged Facts has determined that 14% of U.S. adults—or 31 million—are foodies. Drawing on cross-tabulated Simmons data, this report examines foodies’ demographic characteristics in depth while also discussing foodies’ values and consumer habits. Following a thorough trend overview chapter, the report additionally profiles in separate chapters five distinct foodie cohorts—foreign/spicy foodies, restaurant foodies, foodie cooks, gourmet foodies and organic/natural foodies—pinpointing the unique characteristics of each across areas including demographics and attitudes, media responsiveness, shopping habits and restaurant behavior.

Read an excerpt from this report below.

Report Methodology

The information in Foodies is based on primary and secondary research. Primary research entails in-depth interviews with consultants and industry insiders to obtain information on food trends and the people that drive them. Secondary research entailed data gathering from relevant sources, including consumer and industry publications, newspapers, government reports and company literature. Dozens of charts and tables from diverse sources are included. Consumer demographics are derived from Simmons Market Research Bureau data.

What You’ll Get in This Report

This report helps companies understand what motivates foodies and how to appeal to them, even in difficult economic times. It makes important predictions and recommendations regarding the future of this market. Plus, you’ll benefit from extensive data, presented in easy-to-read and practical charts, tables and graphs.

How You’ll Benefit from This Report

If your company is involved in the grocery or restaurant industry or launches new food products regularly, you will find this report invaluable. Because foodies also like to lead the way in other consumer areas—from shopping to fashion, nutrition matters to “green” pursuits—marketers of non-food products will also benefit from learning how to reach this trend-setting demographic.

This report will help:

  • Marketing managers identify market opportunities and develop targeted promotion plans for food products
  • Research and development professionals stay on top of competitor initiatives and explore demand for their businesses
  • Advertising agencies working with clients in the foodservice industries to help their products find an eager audience
  • Business development executives understand the dynamics of the market and identify possible partnerships.
  • Information and research center librarians provide market researchers, brand and product managers and other colleagues with the vital information they need to do their jobs more effectively.


Additional Information

Market Insights: A Selection From The Report


Skew to Pacific and Northeast Regions, Downtown Areas

Foodies are 14% more likely than U.S. adults on average to live in the Pacific region (index of 114), and 8% more likely to live in the Northeast (index of 108). In contrast, at an index of 84, adults in the Central region are notably less likely than average to be foodies.Moreover, foodies tend to stay close to population centers; they are, for example, 24% more likely to own a condo or co-op (index of 124), indicating a skew to downtown areas. The fact that foodies are more likely to live in the Pacific or Northeast regions reflects both the large urban centers and strong dining cultures of these regions. Seattle, for example, has emerged as a city with an affinity towards fresh, innovative foods as well as greater than average awareness of food-related health and social issues. In the Northeast, Boston’s Green Restaurant Association requires its restaurant members to meet recycling, to-go packaging and carbon-footprint standards.

Educated But Not Necessarily Rich

One mark of the foodie character is that foodies like to learn about what they eat—where a food physically comes from, how it’s grown and comes to market, cooking techniques, the historical and cultural provenance of a dish or of entire cuisines, and the career arcs of chefs and restaurateurs. This love of learning is consistent with the fact that foodies tend to be better educated than the average American. Foodies are, for example, 10% more likely to be a college graduate (index of 110) and 23% more likely to have earned a graduate school degree (index of 123).

Foodies Highly Receptive to Food Marketing

Foodies are a receptive audience when it comes to the types of food marketing to which they “sometime or always” refer, posting above average indexes across the board for more than a dozen types of media. Once again reflected here is the group’s Web-savviness, with the Internet topping the list of food shopping media that appeal disproportionately to foodies, at 36% above the U.S. norm (index of 136). Other effective marketing methods include video monitor displays (index of 127) and ads on shopping carts (index of 115). Because of their high degree of interest in all things food-related, it makes sense that foodies should pay more attention to such grocery shopping media, especially those that respond directly to foodie desires such as being the first among their friends to find out about a new culinary opportunity. At the same time, foodies do make a couple of nods to economizing, being significantly above average to agree strongly that they are often swayed by coupons to try new foods (index of 268) and that eating fast food helps them stay in budget (index of 290). Overall, however, foodies seem to be rather impulsive shoppers inclined to equate higher prices with quality.

In the News


Foodies Pilot Consumerism Beyond Obvious Culinary Curiosities

New York, December 16, 2008 - Foodies are passionate and curious and a truly American phenomenon. In the all-new report, Foodies in the U.S.: Five Cohorts: Foreign/Spicy, Restaurant, Cooks, Gourmet and Organic/Natural, market research publisher Packaged Facts reveals that the 31 million U.S. adults (14% of the population) who qualify as foodies strive to lead the way in other consumer areas such as shopping, fashion, nutrition, and automobiles.

“Some foodies don’t think of themselves as trendy, but overall they are open-minded, curious, and eager to experiment with the new. Research shows that they are significantly more likely than average adults to be the first among their friends to shop at new stores or try new styles,” says Tatjana Meerman, publisher of Packaged Facts.

Outside interests exist, but for Foodies it always comes back to pleasing the palate. For them food is more than body fuel. It is what defines who they are in a greater society. Their food passion provides a framework through which they can build relationships, forge new friendships, discover the world, and even examine which behaviors are ethical. It is for these reasons that Packaged Facts forecasts that even as most consumers seek ways to tighten spending, Foodies will continue to dine out almost daily, purchase gourmet and organic foods exclusively, or indulge themselves in exotic ingredients.

Packaged Facts uses data from Simmons Market Research Bureau to segment the overall foodie demographic into the five foodie cohorts reflected in the report title. Foreign/spicy foodies and restaurant foodies are the two largest foodie cohorts. Approximately 71% of foodies representing 10% of all U.S. adults, or about 22 million, fall into the foreign/spicy cohort. This cohort is helping to introduce the next wave of international cuisine to the American palate. Meanwhile, 65% of foodies fall into the restaurant cohort, representing 9% of all U.S. adults, or approximately 20 million. Unlike most Americans who eat at fast food chains for the sake of convenience, foodies avoid fast food and consider dining out to be a hobby or leisure activity.

Foodies in the U.S.: Five Cohorts: Foreign/Spicy, Restaurant, Cooks, Gourmet and Organic/Natural examines foodies’ demographic characteristics in depth while also discussing foodies’ values, attitudes, culinary interests and consumer habits. The report includes separate chapters on the five titular foodie cohorts. Foodie trends and opportunities, including trends among children and teens, are also explored.

About Packaged Facts - Packaged Facts, a division of Market Research Group, publishes market intelligence on a wide range of consumer industries, including consumer goods and retailing, foods and beverages, demographics, pet, and financial products. Packaged Facts also offers a full range of custom research services.

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