An online survey of more than 1,000 adults 50 and older found these consumers are increasingly using nutrition to improve their health. The survey, from the International Food Information Council, revealed their major concerns are heart, muscle and brain health and having sufficient energy. More than two-thirds of mature adults are dealing with more than one chronic disease.
About six in 10 told IFIC their diet and lifestyle behaviors are better now than 20 years ago, and 86% are trying to choose healthier foods and beverages — particularly in the protein and vegetable categories. However, 32% weren't sure which foods to avoid, 26% didn't know which foods might aid their health the most, and 44% said cost was a barrier to eating healthier.
The survey was conducted between Jan. 30 and Feb. 9, and the results were weighted by age, education, gender, race/ethnicity and region to make sure they represented the 50-plus population in the Census Bureau’s 2017 Current Population Survey. It was conducted by Greenwald & Associates using ResearchNow’s consumer panel and was supported by Abbott.
This survey reveals a wealth of data that food and beverage manufacturers can use to better target the older demographic.
Some products which research has shown to have beneficial effects on these issues of concern to the 50-plus crowd are on the more flavorful and even indulgent end of the spectrum. They include the effect of turmeric on enhanced memory, dark chocolate's role in better cognitive function and red wine's potential for improving cardiovascular, brain and gut health.
Protein and vegetables are two other areas where older adults are looking for healthier options. Plant-based protein is an area of interest for this demographic, research shows, and boomers are especially keen on fresh, less-processed and organic produce. Marketing emphasis along these lines, including combining the two product categories in the store perimeter, could be a smart move to attract customers 50 and older.
Functional and probiotic products in particular could be a lucrative marketing area to target consumers concerned about energy, as well as muscle and brain health.
The survey shows an opportunity for manufacturers and retailers to help older consumers figure out which foods to avoid and which ones to seek out in light of their health concerns. In-store displays, online educational materials and sampling opportunities could be successful in enhancing understanding — and might earn valuable customer loyalty for the companies going that extra mile. Stores with dining options are particularly well-positioned since boomers appreciate the convenience of one-stop dining and shopping.
Although boomers are by and large an economically influential group — accounting for nearly half of all CPG spending, according to Nielsen — 44% of the IFIC survey respondents said cost got in their way of eating more healthfully. Manufacturers might make some of their products more appealing and cheaper, or sell them in single-serving packaging. Retailers might consider special in-store and online sales of healthy items in which their more mature customers are interested. Taking this approach could earn additional business and keep this demographic returning to see what else aligned with their needs is being offered.