The Changing Environment

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The Changing Consumer Environment Retail Store Food Service

for

by

Denis C. Wesenberg SuperValu Albuquerque, New Mexico

Introduction A diversity of forces is driving the pace and direction of change in the American Foodservice. The state of the industry is one of constant, dramatic,swift-moving change, requiring constant examination and analysis. There’s no question that the changes that lie immediately ahead are much different from those that unfolded in the immediate past, and that the forces driving those changes are considerably different. Much of what happened to the foodservice industry in the 1970s flowed directly from the forces set loose by soaring commodity and energy prices, which affected not only the cost and profitability of doing business, but caused basic changes in how companies operate, how groce~ stores presented themselves, and certainly how consumers thought about and shopped for food. Until recently, the 1980s were being driven primarily by the restructuring process under way in business, generally due to commodity/ingredient price stability and to overall stalling of inflation. The 1990s will be fueled mainly by the emergence of the consumer as the all powerful influence. This goes beyond the way the foodservice industqy has traditionally, but often neglectfully or without understanding, paid homage to the ultimate buyer. Shifts in demographics and in demands emanating from consumers will drive the marketplace to a degree never experienced before. In fac$ that’s already happening as the 1980s wind down.

It has become increasingly important, therefore, that we as marketers make every effort to understand the “new” consumer--what drives and influences her/him. For as the consumer changes, so our industry changes. Historical/Demographic Change

Occasionally, it is enlightening to look back and see how far we’ve come or how little we’ve changed. So let’s see just how food consumption patterns and society respond to events, changing technology and demographic factors. 1950s 1. 2. Baby-boom underway, startedin 1946 (World War II). Women devoted primarily to family, home and community. Cleaning standard: “eating off the floor.” 31 percent of women 18-years-old and older in the work force. Movement to the suburbs. USDA Daily food guide. Emphasis on minimum daily requirements. Meat and potatoes necessary for “balanced meal. Three square meals basic to good nutrition; protein essential for a quality diet. Mealtime a family occasion and it was not uncommon for a “soup to nuts” spread as a February90/page 59

3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8.

Journalof Food Distribution Research

symbol of hospitality. Homemade food is the norm. 9. First generation of frozen foods available: TV dinnera, frozen juice.

23. Cigarette smoking identified as a cause of lung cancer and higher death rates from cardiovascular disease and higher mortality overall. 24. Santa Barbara oil spill. Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring’’--a landmark publication addressing environmental issues directly. 25. Beginning of movement against environmental pollution and chemicals. 26. Life expectancy at birth -69.9 years. 1970s

10, Convenience products denigrated for quaMy and price. 11< Commercial TV becomes populaq food companies sponsored many TV shows. 12, TV opens advertising. new opportunity for food

13, Life expectancy at birth: 68.1 years. 1960s 14. Baby-boom era ends in 1964. 38 percent of women, 16-years-old and older, in the work force. 15. Focus on “self’ and activities outside the home: Cleaning, cooking standard lowered; traditional meal de-emphasized. o Homemade food means opening a box of mix. q

27. Baby boomers have fewer children than expected; baby bust era under way. 28. Increasedpreoccupationvvithself-fulfillment-“want it all” mentality. 29. 47 percent of women, 16-years-old and older, in work force. Larger proportion of women entering work force than in previous decades. Convenience growing in importance:...
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