Food Business Almanac with Annette

by | Dec 7, 2011

NCDA&CS food business specialist Annette Dunlap offers resources small-business owners and food entrepreneurs can use to grow and manage their business. Annette is available for free one-on-one consultations and can assist small-business owners with financial and market planning through the agribusiness development section. She can be reached at

Judging consumer behavior can be one of the most challenging parts of marketing a new food business. Two recent articles highlight differences in consumer behavior when it comes to buying and eating food. These articles are a reminder that there are different segments of food customers. Deciding which segments are best for you can help you develop your marketing programs and reach your target market more effectively.

Photo credit: ARS Image Gallery.

According to a recent article in USA Today, the Millennial generation (ages 18 – 30) are snackers. What their parents would consider a breakfast food, such as cereal, serves Millennials just as well as a mid-afternoon “pick me up,” or even dinner. You might even find a Millennial eating a hamburger for breakfast! If you want to learn more about this consumer segment, check out the Pew Research Center’s description of the Millennials.

What does all this mean if you’re going after Millennials as your target age group?

  • Push your product as a snack (a “healthy” snack may be even better).
  • Market your food product as something good any time of the day.
  • Promote your product as something that can be eaten alone – or as part of a meal.

Staying In

Food research company Mintel recently released a new report showing 51 percent of Americans prefer to cook at home.  According to the study, about 25 percent of these cooks are in the 55+ age range. What’s more interesting is their children, the Millennials mentioned above, are also discovering the joys of preparing their own food.

What can you do to encourage prospective customers to try and repurchase your product?

  • Include recipes with your product, either on the label or by directing them to a website.
  • Use photos to show suggested serving options.
  • Provide detailed instructions on how to prepare your food in recipes (YouTube videos are great for this!).
  • Cross-sell with other products to demonstrate your product’s versatility in the kitchen.

I hope you find these tips helpful. If you’d like to receive additional tips directly in your inbox, email me at Best wishes for a happy holiday and a profitable Christmas season!