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Trends Spotlight: Sober Curious

This special report examines the evolving low/no-alcohol trend in consumer culture and the food and beverage market. It was researched and prepared by Hartman’s Retainer Services team and provides our analysts perspectives to help marketers connect to the cultural changes occurring in the U.S. 
About Trends Spotlight: Sober Curious
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, one of the biggest trends in the beverage landscape was the rise in consumer interest in low- and no-alcoholic beverages, largely driven by consumers’ health-centered concerns. The pandemic seemingly altered the trajectory of this trend overnight, but despite a boozy pandemic surge in alcohol sales, the sober curious countermovement that we first noticed in previous years has continued to gain relevance as new products have appeared on the market that meet emerging consumer needs for more mindful drinking, personalization, functionality, and flavor.
Publication date: August 2021
13 pages 
If you would like to learn more about our foresight and trends analysis capabilities, please contact: shelley@hartman-group.com

White Paper

Redefining Normal: Spring 2021 Eating Occasions

This special report explores the context, needs and behaviors associated with eating and drinking occasions. It was researched and prepared by Hartman’s Retainer Services team and provides our analysts perspectives to help marketers connect to the cultural changes occurring in the U.S.

About Redefining Normal: Spring 2021 Eating Occasions
Over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers continue to seek out certain aspects of “normalcy” in day-to-day eating. However, some behaviors have and will continue to be impacted by the pandemic, including when we’re choosing to eat, where we’re eating, who we’re eating with, how we’re sourcing, and the need states driving our food and beverage occasions. Utilizing The Hartman Group’s proprietary Eating Occasions Compass, this report explores American eating and drinking occasions in spring 2021 compared to both the beginning of (spring 2020) and pre-pandemic (spring 2019).

Publication date: August 2021
24 pages

White Paper

Eating Occasions 2020

Leveraging The Hartman Group’s proprietary 2020 Eating Occasions Compass Database, we analyzed the 8 key eating occasions across the day: early morning snack, breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, after dinner snack, and late night meal/snack. Within each of the dayparts, we provide the size of the occasion, who was present, what was consumed, where it was sourced, demographics and need states – many of which include statistically significant notations from 2019, highlighting the impact of COVID-19.


COVID-19’s Continued Impact on Eating – December 2020

Today, COVID-19 continues to play a role in how Americans eat, yet there is a strong desire to achieve normalcy. The occasion context, including where and with whom we eat with, is looking much more like pre-pandemic eating when compared to both the spring and summer. Restaurant food continues to have a strong presence in everyday eating and the high levels of cooking engagement witnessed in the spring never returned. This report highlights the top takeaways from our most recent fall fielding of our eating occasions survey, including how occasions today compare with this time last year and how things have shifted throughout 2020.


COVID-19’s Continued Impact on Eating – Fall 2020

As we first reported in COVID-19’s Impact on Eating in spring 2020, the basic rhythms of meals and snacks were virtually unaffected across dayparts (i.e., Americans were participating in the same eating occasions as they were prior to the pandemic). However, COVID-19 had largely disrupted other aspects of eating, including the occasion context, sourcing, and preparation. This report highlights the top takeaways from our most recent summer fielding of our eating occasions survey, including how some of the earlier behaviors have shifted as well as new observations. It contains a brief overview of key shifts in eating and drinking occasions since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

White Paper

Happy Holidays? Consumer Optimism and Realism Collide in the Era of COVID-19

What are consumers thinking when it comes to celebrating the holidays during the pandemic?
Consumers often approach the holidays with mixed emotions, and this year is no different, yet in one very important way it is: Typically, the holidays are a time of togetherness, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, togetherness can pose serious risks. Recent Hartman Group research with consumers revealed the majority of consumers are still very or extremely concerned about the threats posed by COVID-19 as it pertains to themselves and their family.

White Paper

COVID-19 and New Modern Convenience

Convenience is a key consideration for consumers when it comes to food and beverage choices, but what does convenience look like when a global pandemic throws normal schedules and routines into disarray? The latest Hartman Group white paper, COVID-19 and New Modern Convenience, dissects how the fundamental components and expressions of modern convenience have been translated into the COVID-19 era and analyzes which of these shifts will have long-term impacts on consumer decisions.


COVID-19’s Impact on Eating

Leveraging the Spring 2020 wave of our proprietary Eating Occasions Compass, this report highlights how COVID-19 is impacting Americans’ eating and drinking behaviors. The basic rhythms of meals and snacks, including when and what we eat, remain virtually unaffected across dayparts. Yet, at the same time, we are witnessing unprecedented disruption around where we eat, who is present, how we’re sourcing and planning, the amount of cooking we’re engaging in, and key need states throughout the day. This report also includes spotlights on the dayparts most impacted by COVID-19 (lunch, dinner and snacking occasions) and food service.

White Paper

Value in the Time of COVID-19

What is the consumer understanding of value? How do individuals evaluate the worth of products and services in an ever-competitive food landscape? These questions continue to be a perennial topic of interest for business leaders in the food and beverage space. Now, as the COVID-19 pandemic has upended daily life, the economy and the food landscape, such questions are more imperative than ever.

In this Hartman Group white paper, we discuss how COVID-19 has surfaced a number of new attitudes, behaviors and considerations that consumers are bringing to their calculus of value, and identify key questions and strategic implications that those in the food business must address as they pursue growth post-COVID-19.


The Future of Food: A Hartman Group Perspective

The COVID-19 pandemic instantaneously and dramatically altered life as we knew it. After months of enduring the pandemic, many are longing for a return to “normal.” But when will the crisis end, and how will normal look? This special Hartman Group thought leadership white paper discusses how  consumers lives have changed — how consumers live, eat, and work as well as what they value and the effects on the food industry years to come.


To Premiumize or Not to Premiumize

Premiumization is the gold standard of contemporization strategies for legacy brands today. In this issue, we outline a premiumization agenda for legacy portfolios that is both practical and selective. Ultimately, premiumization is not a strategy suited to all legacy brands. And when it is done, it should be done carefully by understanding a brand’s symbolic context as well as the most brand-relevant premium attributes driving growth in the brand’s categories.


Premium Rising: What Are Insurgent Brands Doing Right?

The continued growth in premium market share is now accepted by most in the food and beverage industry as a long-term trend, not a cyclical aberration. Our special report, Premium Rising: What Are Insurgent Brands Doing Right?, focuses on specific early signals of future premium mega-trends as well as examining case studies of how early-stage challengers redefined quality in their categories and accelerated their growth way beyond their peers.

White Paper

Know How to Grow: The Hartman Group Guide to Renovating, Building and Buying CPG Brands

The question that is often central to our strategic engagements is how best for business leaders to think about their existing assets — especially the large, legacy brands anchoring their portfolios — and how to evaluate the new opportunities for premium product development in spaces that have been foreign.
To really grasp the implications of the profound changes occurring in America’s eating behaviors and practices requires a different, disciplined approach to the study of today’s consumer.


Decoding Performance to Uncover Growth

Why would a company ignore what so many others in the industry have embraced and profited from? In Decoding Performance to Uncover Growth, we explore: how portfolios are performing, key considerations on the path to sustainable growth, and different growth strategies your organization should employ based on your position today.

White Paper

Lidl Comes to America

America’s teeming food-retailing landscape is going to get even tighter. Lidl and ALDI, two of Germany’s keenest discount retail competitors, are poised to continue their longtime intense European rivalry in the U.S. marketplace with the opening of Lidl’s first 20 stores in North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia in the spring of 2017. The chain will add another 80 stores by mid-2018, establishing a strong footprint with which to go head-to-head with ALDI and pose a formidable threat to many of America’s established food retailers. What this means for U.S. consumers is they are about to add yet another retailer to the growing array of food retailing options. And Lidl’s low-pricing strategy will be a significant draw.


Understanding the Future Market Potential of Trends

Spotting a trend is one thing, finding market potential in trends is quite another. In Understanding the Future Market Potential of Trends, we share our approach to identifying trends with a sharp focus on how your organization can monetize those trends, which relies on being able to execute at the product level via innovation or acquisition.


The Future of E-Commerce in Modern Culture

The recently completed merger of Amazon and Whole Foods has dramatically altered the possible future of e-commerce food and beverage in the U.S. market. At the same time, high-level sales trends and new consumer research point to the increasing likelihood of a medium-term acceleration in online grocery market share. But, to be honest, we do not see many people in the retail ecosystem taking this as seriously as they probably should. The popular reasons to downplay the online threat are all based on a flawed contextual understanding of how U.S. shopper behavior could change in the next ten years and the effect of this behavioral change on our food retail ecosystem.


Premium Marketing Strategy

While traditional marketers target brand communications at a group of people thought to be predisposed by (or desirable because of) a shared lifestyle or demographic, we argue that, in premium marketing, where you are building a low-awareness brand to cultural and financial scale, the only target audience that matters is consumers of premium symbolic and sensory attributes in your operating category.

White Paper

Wellness Myths & Misperceptions

Setting the Record Straight on Five Fables About Health and Wellness 

One of The Hartman Group’s pillars of expertise has been — and remains — the study of health and wellness. We’ve been there from the start. We are the de facto standard when it comes to customized research in this arena. And we are leaders when it comes to trends and “ahead-of-the-curve” thinking about health and wellness.

Over the years, we’ve seen our share of fads come and go, not to mention encountering more than a few fables about consumers and the health and wellness marketplace. This white paper demystifies five common wellness myths and misperceptions.


The New Playbook in Packaged Food

This issue of Hartbeat Exec updates readers’ on the state of America’s leading food/beverage companies, and explains why young, growing brands can only contribute to the long term success of a company’s portfolio if a new playbook is built to go alongside the old.