Bacon cheeseburger, please…with a side salad

Pizza. Kale. Bacon. Smoothies. Fries. Avocado. Donuts. Granola. This is just a quick selection of some of the most popular foods among 18-35 year olds at the moment. Check out Instagram and you’ll see a smorgasbord of health and soul food pictures that leave you hangry. Facebook and Snapchat are filled with videos of both fried masterpieces and carb-substitute recipes. Our appetites are filled with contradictions. How did we end up here?

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Three words: The Fitness Revolution. It’s no longer the goal to be Barbie-sized. It’s about strength and tone. Don’t take my word for it; look at the bourgeoning gym economy, the amount individuals spend on workout clothes, marathons that have lottery systems because too many people are signing up, Carrie Underwood’s legs (talk about fitspiration). It’s no longer a focus on ‘skinny,’ but a focus on muscle. So instead of either eating healthy or unhealthy, we go with a mix of both thanks to the ‘I Deserve This’ mentality. This is an incredible opportunity for the business world.

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Very rarely does a consumer segment open up like this. We’ve gone through the “don’t drink soda” campaign which is still leaving Coca Cola and Pepsi dazed and confused. We pushed the “say no to smoking” campaign deep into our culture. Most recently, we’ve done the “only eat organic” campaign that left our ethical selves fulfilled but wallets empty. This recent behavior is so much different. It’s: “Let’s just eat everything because we took 1000 steps today and ate salad yesterday. We deserve this.”

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From the bar down the street to worldwide franchises, businesses have jumped on this trend. Bars serving burgers on whole wheat buns, cafe menus with avocado toast listed right next to the stuffed french toast, Taco Bell posting about eating healthy at their stores less than a month after releasing the Naked Chapula (the shell is replaced with fried chicken in this bad boy). All of these things show companies are listening to the consumer. For once we’re asking for options and they’re showing that they can deliver.
This is an exciting moment for the food and fitness industry. Consumers feel good eating the healthy stuff and feel entitled to eat the bad stuff. It’s a perfect storm for testing new products, new packaging, new copy, and new content. I’m looking forward to seeing what these companies are cooking up.
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