Foodies tend to be older, have higher incomes, and aren’t afraid to go out of their way to find a good meal, according to a report from the International Food Information Council Foundation.
If the food and beverage offerings at your conferences don’t directly target the foodie contingent, odds are high that the foodies among your members will find their own high-quality options anyway.
That’s one key takeaway for associations from the 2017 Food and Health Survey, recently published by the International Food Information Council Foundation (IFIC Foundation).
The report, based on an online survey of 1,002 Americans ages 18 to 80, highlights six different kinds of food consumers [PDF]. Alongside the well-known foodie tier were pleasure shoppers, diligent searchers, product selectors, unbiased buyers, and indifferent consumers.
Foodies may be the most interesting audience. As the report notes, they put flavor, quality, and taste above all else. They will choose a more inconvenient and costlier option if the meal is a healthier, higher-quality product.
Although they get a lot of notice in the media, foodies made up only about 14 percent of those surveyed. The most common type of food consumer was the product selector (24 percent), who chooses foods based on the maker. Foodies were tied with unbiased buyers at 14 percent and were just slightly above indifferent consumers, who accounted for 13 percent of respondents.
But what they don’t have in sheer numbers they make up for in demographics—which is why your conference might want to cater to the foodie audience. According to the report, foodies tend to be women (63 percent female versus 37 percent male), tend to make more money (more than half make above $75,000 per year), and tend to be past the age where they’re actively raising children. (The category had the oldest participants, with an average age of 58.) The result is that budget and convenience are less important to them.
Foodies generally consider a meal healthy if it is free from artificial ingredients, minimally processed, and high in healthful components. This differs from most other food consumers, who associate healthy options with important food groups.
And three in five foodies can name specific nutrients or foods that offer certain health benefits—a higher percentage than the general population.
Alexandra Lewin-Zwerdling, Ph.D., vice president of research and partnerships at the IFIC Foundation, noted that while the Food and Health Survey has long worked to understand consumer food tastes, it has never looked at foodies specifically. And considering how distinct their views are, the foundation had a good reason to start.
“Our hope is that by better understanding the attitudes, perceptions, and habits behind consumer behavior, we can work with partners to enhance and develop effective nutrition education strategies,” she said in a statement.