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Foodies in the U.S.: Gourmet Foodies

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 profiles the foodie cohort known as gourmet foodies, pinpointing their unique characteristics 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.


Market Insights: A Selection From The Report


Female, Ethnic and Geographic Skews

As with foodies overall, gourmet foodies skew more female than male, but this cohort narrows the gender gap somewhat, at 55% female and 45% male, compared with 57% and 43%, respectively, for foodies overall.

Racially, gourmet foodies are more likely than U.S. adults on average to be Hispanic (index of 118, compared with 128 for foodies overall) or Black (index of 115, compared with 107 for foodies overall). Correspondingly, they are 13% less likely to be White (index of 87, compared with 91 for foodies overall), although Whites still comprise a sizable majority of gourmet foodies—62%, or approximately 6.2 million of the 10 million gourmet foodies overall. Gourmet foodies are more likely than U.S. adults on average to live in the Pacific (index of 124) or Northeast (index of 112) regions. On the other hand, they are less likely to live in the Central (index of 79) or Southwest regions (index of 88). In addition, gourmet foodies tend to cluster in the country’s larger cities. According to Simmons, 35% live in a top 25 metro market, such that they are 9% more likely than average to do so (index of 109).

Housing data further reflect gourmet foodies’ youth and urbanity. They are 10% less likely than U.S. adults on average to own a house (index of 90), as footing these costs would be difficult for a young person in an urban area. Instead, they are more likely to rent a house (index of 136), rent an apartment (index of 122) or own a condo or co-op (index of 132). [Table 6-1]

Higher Education and Income Tilts

To step out of mainstream American cuisine and learn about gourmet foods requires a selfdriven curiosity. Also, someone who “likes food presented as an art form” is most likely interested in other forms of the arts and culture and well. Not surprisingly, therefore, Simmons data show that gourmet foodies tend to be better educated than U.S. adults on average. In fact, nearly three-fifths (58%) of gourmet foodies have some degree of college education, and 12% have graduate degrees, putting them 41% above the U.S. average (index of 141). [Figure 6-3; Table 6-1]

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.

Chapter 1: Executive Summary
Scope and Methodology
Scope of Report
Five Foodie Cohorts
Report Methodology
Market Overview
The New Culture of Food
Defining Foodie
An American Phenomenon
Foodie Character and Values
Foodie-ism Often a Key Part of Self-Identity
Foodies May Resist Foodie Classification
31.2 Million U.S. Adults Are Foodies
Figure 1-1: Foodies and Foodie Cohorts as a Percentage of U.S. Adults, 2008 (percent)
Foodiehood Peaks in Pre-Middle Age Brackets
Skew to Pacific and Northeast Regions, Downtown Areas
Educated But Not Necessarily Rich
Consumers with an Attitude
Influencers and Influenced
High Media and Advertising Awareness
Traveling to Taste
Foodies Highly Receptive to Food Marketing
Foodies as Informed Health Consumers
Foodie Eco-Consciousness
Foodie Opportunities in All Dayparts
Figure 1-2: Relative Importance of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Among Foodies, 2008 (index)
Eating In: No Time to Scrimp
Food Shopping Skews to Fresh Formats
The Cheaper Side of Whole Foods
Food and Beverage Purchasing Patterns
The Resurgence of Farmers’ Markets
Organic v. Local
Foodies Push Fast Food in Healthier Directions
Foodies Embrace Social Aspects of Food
Foodies and the Economic Downturn


Chapter 2: Market Overview
Introduction
The New Culture of Food
Defining Foodie
An American Phenomenon
Foodie Character and Values
Foodie-ism Often a Key Part of Self-Identity
Foodies May Resist Foodie Classification
31.2 Million U.S. Adults Are Foodies
Five Foodie Cohorts
10% of Adults Are Foreign/Spicy Foodies
9% Are Restaurant Foodies
7% Are Foodie Cooks
Figure 2-1: Foodies and Foodie Cohorts as a Percentage of U.S. Adults, 2008 (percent)
5% Are Gourmet Foodies
Figure 2-2: Foodies and Foodie Cohorts by Number of U.S. Adults, 2008 (in thousands)
4% Are Organic/Natural Foodies
Figure 2-3: Foodie Cohorts as a Percentage of All Foodies, 2008
Overlap Between Foodie Cohorts
Table 2-1: Overlap Between Foodie Cohorts, 2008 (percent)
Foodies and the Mapping of Food Trends
Foodie Demographics
Foodiehood Peaks in Pre-Middle Age Brackets
Figure 2-4: Age Distribution Among Foodies, 2008 (index)
A Female Skew
Figure 2-5: Foodie Gender Breakout, 2008 (percent)
Hispanics Index at 128 as Foodies
Figure 2-6: Foodie Ethnic/Racial Demographics, 2008 (index)
U.S. Racial/Ethnic Trends
Skew to Pacific and Northeast Regions, Downtown Areas
Figure 2-7: Foodie Patterns by Region of Residence, 2008 (index)
Figure 2-8: Foodie Patterns by Type of Residence, 2008 (index)
Educated But Not Necessarily Rich
Foodies and the Economic Downturn
Figure 2-9: U.S. Grocery Industry Sales Growth, 2001-2007 (percent)
Will Foodies Cut Back?
Table 2-2: Foodie Demographics, 2008 (percentages, number and index for U.S. adults)
Foodie Psychographics and Consumer Traits
Consumers with an Attitude
Enthralled with the New
Figure 2-10: Foodie Attitudes About Experimentation, 2008 (index)
An Adventuresome Self-Image
Figure 2-11: Foodie Self-Image About Adventure, 2008 (index)
Foodies Wear Prada
Figure 2-12: Foodie Attitudes About Fashion, 2008 (index)
Influencers and Influenced
Figure 2-13: Foodie Attitudes About Trendsetting, 2008 (index)
Figure 2-14: Foodies Attitudes About Outside Opinions and Validation, 2008 (index)
High Media and Advertising Awareness
Foodies Gravitate to the Web, Blogs
Figure 2-15: Popular Foodie Blogs
Figure 2-16: Foodie Computer Attitudes and Usage Levels, 2008 (index)
Bricks-and-Mortar Patterns Reflect High-Style, High-Tech Tastes
Foodies Are Active as Direct Shoppers
Foodies Highly Receptive to Food Marketing
Impulse Spending Over Coupon Cutting
Figure 2-17: Foodie Attitudes About Spending, 2008 (index)
Foodies as Informed Health Consumers
Foodie Eco-Consciousness
Figure 2-18: Environmental Attitudes of Foodies, 2008 (index)
Vegetarians, the Food Chain, and the Environment
Traveling to Taste
Table 2-3: Selected Psychographics: Adults Overall vs. Foodies, 2008 (percent of U.S. adults overall and percent and index for foodie adults)
Table 2-4: Personal Computer Use Patterns: Adults Overall vs. Foodies, 2008 (percent of U.S. adults overall and percent and index for foodie adults)
Table 2-5: Retail Shopping Patterns: Adults Overall vs. Foodies, 2008 (percent of U.S. adults overall and percent and index for foodie adults)
Table 2-6: Internet, Mail, or Phone Order Shopping Patterns: Adults Overall vs. Foodies, 2008 (percent of U.S. adults overall and percent and index for foodie adults)
Table 2-7: Food Retail Shopping & Spending Patterns: Adults Overall vs. Foodies, 2008 (percent of U.S. adults overall and percent and index for foodie adults)
Foodies and the Food Industry
Foodie Opportunities in All Dayparts
Figure 2-19: Relative Importance of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner Among Foodies, 2008 (index)
Eating In: No Time to Scrimp
Food Shopping Skews to Fresh Formats
The Cheaper Side of Whole Foods
Food and Beverage Purchasing Patterns
Malls Make a Play for Gourmets
The Resurgence of Farmers’ Markets
Figure 2-20: Number of Operating Farmers Markets, 1994-2008
Rise of Local Food Movement
An Organic Plateau?
Figure 2-21: U.S. Organic Food Sales, 2005-2008 (in millions of dollars)
Foodies and Foodservice Chains
Foodies Push Fast Food in Healthier Directions
Foodies Embrace Social Aspects of Food
Communal Dining
Supper Clubs
Table 2-8: Household Use of Packaged Foods by Type of Product: Adults Overall vs. Foodies, 2008 (percent of U.S. adults overall and percent and index for foodie adults)
Table 2-9: Household Use of Beverage Products by Type: Adults Overall vs. Foodies, 2008 (percent of U.S. adults overall and percent and index for foodie adults)
Table 2-10: Household Purchasing Patterns for Packaged Foods for Selected Brands: Adults Overall vs. Foodies, 2008 (percent of U.S. adults overall and percent and index for foodie adults)
Table 2-11: Household Use of Non-Alcoholic Beverage Products for Selected Brands: Adults Overall vs. Foodies, 2008 (percent of U.S. adults overall and percent and index for foodie adults)
Table 2-12: Use of Selected Alcoholic Beverage Brands: Adults Overall vs. Foodies, 2008 (percent of U.S. adults overall and percent and index for foodie adults)
Table 2-13: Use of Family Restaurant and Fast Food Chains: Adults Overall vs. Foodies, 2008 (percent of U.S. adults overall and percent and index for foodie adults)
Foodie Kids
Household Expenditures on Kids’ Food
Table 2-14: Aggregate Annual Family Expenditures on Food for 3- to 11-Year-Olds by Age Group, 2007 (number and dollars)
A New Foodie Generation
Organic Baby Food on a Healthy Track
Nurturing Foodie Kids and Teens
Trends for Kids
Trends for Teens


Chapter 3: Gourmet Foodies
Gourmet Foodie Demographics
Market Definition
Figure 3-1: Overlap Between Gourmet Foodies and Other Foodie Cohorts (percent)
Gourmet Foods Appeal to Younger Adults
Figure 3-2: Indexes by Age Bracket: Gourmet Foodies vs. Foodies Overall, 2008
Female, Ethnic and Geographic Skews
Higher Education and Income Tilts
Figure 3-3: Indexes by Highest Level of Educational Attainment: Gourmet Foodies vs. Foodies Overall, 2008
Figure 3-4: Indexes by Household Income Bracket: Gourmet Foodies vs. Foodies Overall, 2008
Figure 3-5: Indexes by Value of Residence: Gourmet Foodies vs. Foodies Overall, 2008
A Single Streak
Table 3-1: Gourmet Foodie Demographics, 2008 (percentages, number and index for U.S. adults)
Gourmet Foodie Psychographics and Consumer Traits
Style Seekers Subject to Peer Influence
Figure 3-6: Indexes for Peer Influence Psychographics: Gourmet Foodies vs. Foodies Overall, 2008
Figure 3-7: Indexes for Clothing and Fashion Psychographics: Gourmet Foodies vs. Foodies Overall, 2008
Food and Nutrition Interests Extend Beyond Gourmet
Figure 3-8: Indexes for Fast Food and Cooking Psychographics: Gourmet Foodies vs. Foodies Overall, 2008
An Avid Online Audience
Food and Retail Shopping Patterns
Favored Food Products and Brands
Restaurant Usage Patterns
Table 3-2: Selected General Psychographics: Foodies Overall vs. Gourmet Foodies, 2008 (percent and index for foodies overall vs. gourmet foodies)
Table 3-3: Selected Food- and Nutrition-Related Psychographics: Foodies Overall vs. Gourmet Foodies, 2008 (percent and index for foodies overall vs. gourmet foodies)
Table 3-4: Personal Computer Use Patterns: Foodies Overall vs. Gourmet Foodies, 2008 (percent and index for foodies overall vs. gourmet foodies)
Table 3-5: Retail Shopping Patterns: Foodies Overall vs. Gourmet Foodies, 2008 (percent and index for foodies overall vs. gourmet foodies)
Table 3-6: Internet, Mail, or Phone Order Shopping Patterns: Foodies Overall vs. Gourmet Foodies, 2008 (percent and index for foodies overall vs. gourmet foodies)
Table 3-7: Food Retail Shopping & Spending Patterns: Foodies Overall vs. Gourmet Foodies, 2008 (percent and index for foodies overall vs. gourmet foodies)
Table 3-8: Household Use of Packaged Foods by Type of Product: Foodies Overall vs. Gourmet Foodies, 2008 (percent and index for foodies overall vs. gourmet foodies)
Table 3-9: Household Use of Beverage Products by Type: Foodies Overall vs. Gourmet Foodies, 2008 (percent and index for foodies overall vs. gourmet foodies)
Table 3-10: Household Purchasing Patterns for Packaged Foods for Selected Brands: Foodies Overall vs. Gourmet Foodies, 2008 (percent and index for foodies overall vs. gourmet foodies)
Table 3-11: Household Use of Non-Alcoholic Beverage Products for Selected Brands: Foodies Overall vs. Gourmet Foodies, 2008 (percent and index for foodies overall vs. gourmet foodies)
Table 3-12: Use of Selected Alcoholic Beverage Brands: Foodies Overall vs. Gourmet Foodies, 2008 (percent and index for foodies overall vs. gourmet foodies)
Table 3-13: Use of Family Restaurant & Fast Food Chains: Foodies Overall vs. Gourmet Foodies, 2008 (percent and index for foodies overall vs. gourmet foodies)
The Gourmet Foodie Landscape
U.S. Gourmet Food Sales Going Strong
Figure 3-9: U.S. Retail Sales of Gourmet/Premium Foods and Beverages: 2003, 2007 and 2012 (in millions of dollars)
Figure 3-10: Share of U.S. Retail Sales of Gourmet/Premium Foods and Beverages: By Channel, 2008 (percent)
Taking It Up a Notch
Gourmet Foodies and Organic/Natural, Local/Fresh
Figure 3-11: Number of U.S. Gourmet Food and Beverage New Product Introductions: By Selected Natural Package Tags/Claims, 2008
The Restaurant Role
Gourmet Foodies Less Likely to Cut Back
Small Business by Design
Gourmet Foodies and the Environment

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