Leo Burnett Chicago identified six key consumer insights that will have a lasting impact in 2012 and beyond, reports The Food Channel.
The study, "HumanKind 2012: The Transformation of Aspiration," forecasts societal changes vitally important to U.S. brands and marketers. Americans are moving away from the "Big Plan" to go to school, grow up, get married, have kids, and climb the corporate ladder. Today we're seeing more men staying at home, more women working, and nearly 40 percent of all children being born to a single mom. More men are doing the food shopping and cooking the bacon that Mom brought home.
Consumer insights include:
Sense of fairness declines, happiness inequality rises. Optimism is in serious decline, especially those with lower incomes. Feelings of inequality and unfairness are everywhere. Winning brands will be those that consistently deliver acts of fairness and behave with demonstrable morality. Think "fair trade" products and legitimate cause marketing.
The average American family is anything but. People define their own family situation, whether it's a single parent household or something more traditional. With the exception of ABC's Modern Family, traditional media is slow to catch up to the changing American family. Brands that reflect this new diversity in their marketing efforts will show that their products fit the new reality.
Men evolve as masculinity declines. The old roles of the male bread winner and female bread baker are often reversed today. Food brands that keep that in mind will have a better opportunity for success. Healthy is in the eye of the beholder.
Food is still one of the few affordable luxuries. While 47 percent of Americans say they would like restaurants to offer healthier options, only 23 percent actually order those items. When presented with the choice between a salad and a burger, consumers see more value in the satisfaction of the juicy hamburger.
Collective bargaining is a weapon of survival. Daily deal giants such as Groupon and Living Social let Americans get deals on a plethora of products and services, including food and restaurant offerings. A growing segment of Americans will pay full retail only as a last resort.
And lastly, Social/mobile technology: abandon the novel, embrace the practical. There will be 20 million new smart phone users in 2012. Food brands, restaurants and retailers that show they are in tune with the latest technology and find new and pragmatic ways to interact with tech-savvy consumers have a chance to reap huge dividends.
"This year's power brands will be those that quickly adapt to changing human behavior and recognize how this shift is reshaping the fabric of American society," says Stephen Hahn-Griffiths, chief strategy officer for Leo Burnett.