How The American Diet Is Changing — In Weirdly Surprising Ways

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icHave you ever heard of a "yemmie"? No? Lucky you, because for advertisers and businesses, she's a real pain in the neck.

It means "young, educated, milennial mother" in ad circles, and the term is a symbol of the stress marketers behind grocery store brands are currently under. That's because the American diet is changing, and grocery store-products, once the safe, stable, standard-bearers of the advertising industry, are now part of a cut-throat arena where nothing is certain, least of all the future. The generation that made up that once-solid base is getting old and buying less, while an unpredictable new generation is quickly becoming the target market. So, in short, food marketing is stuck in the '50s, and the most lucrative slice of vegan, gluten-free, low-carb, lactose-intolerant customers is way ahead of its time.

According to a Jefferies/Alix report featured on Ad Age, these younger customers — "yemmies" and their counterparts — are just too hip for marketers to keep up. They're not loyal to brands (who cares about labels when you're storing it all in a mason jar on your rustic farm-style countertop anyway?), and their attitude is pure elitism. While in the '50s a well-to-do family might have gloated about big-name products, today, it's all about exclusivity and beating the masses to the punch.

And then there's the ever-expanding focus on health. Whether it's quinoa one day or flaxseed the next, consumers today are nothing short of addicted to "health foods" (be they legit or less-than). One ad exec told Ad Age that "consumers are looking for products that make it easy for them to understand what's good...That can be communicated in a lot of ways. It could be [the] small number of ingredients, it could be talking about the fruit and vegetable content or talking about the grain content or talking about the protein content." That comes as no surprise, given the recent influx of familiar products with a new spin. Haagen Dazs "Five" product line comes to mind, which boasts only five ingredients, and although none of them are exactly superfoods (milk, sugar, and eggs are always at the top of the list), the simplicity and hip packaging seem to do the trick. MillerCoors has even created a tragically hip beer line called Tenth & Blake. If that doesn't scream hipster to you, we don't know what does.

It's surprising to hear, in an age where obesity seems to be the paranoid obsession du jour (and not unjustly so), that marketers' main concern is responding to the desire for small and healthy. But smallness — whether it's the size of the company or the portions themselves — is a strong desire in consumers' minds. American consumers, or at least the ones with money to spare, want the proof of social status that comes with eating exotic foods produced by non-mainstream brands, even if they just picked it up one aisle over by the Oreos and Wonder Bread. (Ad Age)

Hit the next page for an infographic that breaks all these changes down into one shiny, colorful picture (in case all that text was just too much).

Photo: Courtesy of Haagen Dazs
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Image via Ad Age.