3 Transformational Food Movements

Google's Steve Lerch presented an overview of how digital media has changed the food system at the 2019 Top Producer Seminar. ( Lindsey Robinson )

The rise of farmer’s markets to home-delivery meal kits to niche brands claiming gluten-free and sunshine-fed products are just a few clues the food landscape is cluttered, confusing and changing. 

“We have so much more information than ever before, and that leads us to trust everything less,” says Steve Lerch, Google account executive for advocacy and associations. “Trust has declined in the food system.”

Today’s food movements, Lerch says, fall into three categories: purpose, plan and preparation.

Purpose: Consumers are shifting away from focusing on weight loss—strong is the new skinny. “For the first time in Google history, we’re seeing a reduction in interest to ‘get skinny,’ and seeing more focus on ‘get fit,’” Lerch says. In fact, one in three people say physical activity is important to their identity.

Plan: Today, no purchases are considered a low-consideration buy. Consumers are faced with more choices than ever and heavily research items—even low-dollar ones (every week there are millions of Google searches related to toothpaste). Over half of all offline purchases are digitally influenced, Lerch says. Although grocery shopping has been one of the slowest categories to move online, it’s rapidly being adopted. Lerch says 35% of U.S. household will spend at least one-third of their annual grocery budget via online channels. 

Preparation: “Food is becoming an increasingly personal thing for people,” Lerch says. “Consumers want to talk about how they are feeding their families.” Consumers use their smartphone as a sous chef, he says, as six out of 10 millennials use their smartphones or tablets to help in the kitchen. 

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