Emotional eating: How culture, generation and emotion drive food purchase decisions, 91% of Aussies have more intense food category view post-Covid, big opportunities for FMCG brands
Nine in ten Aussies feel more intense and positive emotions to food post-Covid, and after two years in and out of lockdowns, one-third of people are looking to try new things. That’s what News Corp Australia’s latest Emotional Connection Series study in partnership with The Lab Strategy and Nature, has found. As Food and Travel MD Fiona Nilsson writes, food is the new growth area and there are delicious – and lucrative – opportunities for brands that understand the connection communities have to food.
Food plays an important and connective role in our lives regardless of who you are or where you come from. That means opportunity. Opportunity for brands to drive meaningful connections with consumers as a part of Australia’s rich emotional relationship with food. Enter our latest landmark study: Emotional Connection Series - Food, designed to understand exactly how that relationship works and how it’s informing food’s new growth agenda.
The research is part of an ongoing series involving groundbreaking research between News Corp Australia and market-leading research agencies The Lab Strategy and Nature. It is designed to explicitly focus on our emotional connections with food – as consumers – and the important narratives that anchor us to these emotions. Understanding these narratives helps us to understand exactly what brand messages will resonate best across various contexts. By looking at emotional connections through a generational and cultural lens and tapping into the consumer mindset, we can expose critical marketing opportunities to drive stronger results for your business.
We already know that Australians have a unique relationship with food. After all, we are home to a diverse range of people and cultures, meaning the Australian recipe book is constantly evolving. This has only been supercharged by the pandemic, as culinary exploration and experimentation in the kitchen skyrocketed.
The key findings
Overall, 91 per cent of Australians are experiencing more actively positive and intense emotions towards food as a category, meaning we should expect a bright future ahead as the Australian market evolves. Off the back of a lean into food culture during the last two years, 50 per cent of Australians have now shifted from confidence to pride as it relates to food and food culture.
Unsurprisingly, two-thirds of Australians are pursuing new food experiences. They are proactively learning about and trialling new types of food which is having a ripple effect across the FMCG retail economy with ethnic foods now outpacing conventional.
There’s a sense of alienation between consumers and the market. Something that screams opportunity for you and your brand – but only if done right. Thirty-five per cent of Australians feel that brands represent them, their culture, or their heritage, with the other 65 per cent feeling unrepresented.
Health and wellbeing is shifting more into centre stage as a driver for consumer trial. Our research shows that beyond taste and price, being “made in Australia” and health and wellbeing messaging are the largest drivers of trial across consumer groups.
There’s never been a more significant opportunity to capture new audiences
Customer loyalty has emerged as the Covid opportunity for brands. Traditionally loyal bases are shifting, with one-third of consumers actively trialling new brands and products. There is also more experimentation, with one-third of Aussies cooking different meals more often than previously expected.
But we must be considerate of trans-generational differences
There is a job to be done for brands and marketers when it comes to connecting with different generations. Our findings reflect that the pandemic has and continues to disrupt our food ecology. There is explicit interplay between what is a passionate pursuit for some consumers and the rigours of daily life for others. This is heightened when it comes to specific generations.
For instance, Gen Z is all about mood-based choices and food that will help with mood management; Gen Y uses food primarily for practical reasons to manage their mental load; for Gen X, it’s management of the mundane – of practicality and efficiency; and finally for the Baby Boomers it is managing moments and creating memories around food, like the passing down of family recipes.
Diversity sits at the heart of Australia
Cultural background plays a major role in driving our emotional connections with food. Be it the metro melting pots or rich regional areas, Australia is an undeniably multicultural country with almost half (49 per cent) of all Australians being born overseas or having at least one parent born overseas – which is significant, given consumers who identify as “multicultural” proved to be the most passionate about food.
Food serves as a rare common ground for past and present elements of individual cultures to collide. This means opportunity for brands who make the effort to understand what it is about food that connects history and contemporary identity for each culture.
Whoever and wherever you are in Australia, it’s hard to deny the impact that food has upon our lives, our relationships, our culture and even how we function. The research uncovered by the latest Emotional Connection Series reflects the diversity of Australia and exposes differences within cultures and generations. But it also reflects the growing love for food that Australians share – pride in how food is playing a bigger role in our lives than ever before.
To find out how Australia’s emotional connection to food can drive real results for your business, make the first move. Contact your News Corp Australia representative to access the Emotional Connection Series - Food playbook or visit www.newscorpaustralia.com/ecsfood/ for more information.