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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Millennials: More settled than you might think

Although popular culture often imagines 18- to 29-year-olds as living the life of freewheeling, unattached singles, many in this age group have already settled down.  When advertisers think about how to approach adult Millennials, they need to remember that there is a more than one in three chance that those in their target audience are absorbed in the mundane details of supporting a family, running a household and raising children.
Data cited in Packaged Facts' May 2012 report, Millennials in the U.S., show that more than a third of 18- to 29-year-olds are either married or are living as part of a couple.  About the same percentage are or will soon be parents.
Still, there are many generational ties that bind Millennials, regardless of their stage of life.  These include a deep comfort with technology, heavy involvement in social media, a multitasking mentality and non-stop immersion with screens on cell phones, digital tablets and PCs.  The challenge for marketers is to leverage this common ground while showing an appreciation for the diverse lives Millennials lead in fact rather than fiction.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Dog and cats as America’s four-legged therapists


You can’t pet a goldfish. You can’t take a hamster on a three mile run through the park. And you can’t teach an old (or young) hermit crab new tricks. Reptiles? Not the most ideal snuggle buddies on chilly evenings. Pet pigs? Those are speed bumps for the SoHo social networker on the go.

But dogs and cats, now there’s a pair that many Americans can get behind. And not just as animals worthy of all the doting our pet parenting instincts can muster, but because these animals provide a discernable psychological boost to those they interact with. True, dogs and cats have long been a staple of the practice of animal-assisted therapy for hospitalized individuals. In the 21st century, however, an increasing number of pet owners with all options open are boldly proclaiming that their cats and dogs are more than just family or companions—they are the therapy these individuals always knew they needed. It’s the reason why memoirs such as Bruce Goldstein’s Puppy Chow Is Better Than Prozac: The True Story of a Man and the Dog Who Saved His Life resonate with so many Americans.

According to Dog Population and Dog Owner Trends and Cat Population and Cat Owner Trends, twin reports just released by Packaged Facts, 75% of dog owners and 84% of cat owners agree that their pet positively impacts their mental health. Rather than footing costly therapist bills, many of these pet owners are opting to reward their four-footed therapists by purchasing higher-priced pet products and services—particularly those positioned squarely on health, as well as on other premium appeals including pampering, safety and convenience.

Bruce Goldstein describes himself as an edgy, twenty-something New Yorker, but there are many demographic varieties of pet parents. Baby Boomers recently dealing with the empty-nest stage of life, as well as other adults in households without children, are prominent among those turning to dogs and cats as mental health benefit providers. If the trend grows, as Packaged Facts believes it will, the pet industry will continue to be heavily influenced by the spending habits of Baby Boomers and other households with the discretionary income to ensure that their dogs and cats live as smartly and age as gracefully as they do, or at least have trendier meals and better toys as time takes its toll.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Targeted health and wellness foods: What's inside


Taste, convenience, and price are typically cited as the most influential factors when consumers are grocery shopping.  But when shoppers are making purchase decisions based on their own specific health concerns or those of other household members, the health benefit reputation of a food, beverage, or ingredient is by far the most compelling driver.
This is among the findings from a proprietary consumer surveys conducted by Packaged Facts for our report on Targeted Health and Wellness Foods and Beverages: The U.S. Market and Global Trends (March 2012).  Other Packaged Facts research surveys show similar results, as health benefit reputation is overwhelmingly the number-one reason shoppers buy high-antioxidant and high-omega food and beverage products.
According to a May-June 2011 survey conducted by Packaged Facts—with a sample of 2,000 U.S. adults who in aggregate were Census representative on the primary demographic measures of gender, age bracket, race/ethnicity, geographic region, and the presence of children in the household— nearly two-thirds (63%)  of U.S. grocery shoppers have purchased a food or beverage in the past year for the purpose of addressing one or more of 22 common health and wellness concerns.
 Notably, a larger percentage of adults consumers choose foods or beverages for the management of two specific health concerns—cholesterol (24%) and digestive health (23%)—than for key general functional or quality-of-life benefits such as energy levels (17%) or appearance/beauty (13%).
In seeking to address such health concerns, shoppers are proactive about doing research to educate themselves about dietary nutrients.  Just over half of targeted health and wellness product shoppers consider health, nutrition, and wellness websites to be among the most valuable sources of information — the type of information that contributes to the all-important health benefit reputation of a product.  In fact, these shoppers consider the Internet to be significantly more useful than other types of media, including journals, magazines, newspapers, TV programming, and radio.
Particularly through the Internet, therefore, it is critical that marketers of targeted health and wellness products convey the health benefits of their products clearly, consistently, and frequently, based on authentic cultural traditions and legitimate scientific research data.  Even when shopper purchasing of targeted health and wellness foods is only for a nice-to-have potential benefit, credibility is crucial to product success.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Don't drink and get downsized

In the wake of the bleakest economic period that the country has faced in nearly a century, the pressures of the job market are popping up in unlikely places.  As noted in Packaged Facts’ report on Antioxidant Products in the U.S., for example, Employee Vita Occupation-Specific Vitamins were not just targeted but "tailored" to specific occupational health needs.
According to the company's website (now offline) , this was “achieved by creating proprietary blends that addresses unique health needs such as immunity, stress, energy, joint care, skin care, focus, clarity, heart health, etc., eliminating the need for someone to figure out what they should take as well as eliminating the expense and inconvenience of taking multiple vitamins."
Farther afield in the novelty products arena are Health Essist Health-E-Strips Alcohol Defender hangover-prevention strips, which garnered 101 “likes” on facebook.  The mint-flavored, tape-like supplement contains milk thistle, Vitamin C, and other ingredients, and is designed to dissolve in the mouth before drinking.
Not to be outdone by mint tape, beverages claiming to prevent hangovers have dipped their toe into the antioxidant beverages market.  Resurrection Anti-Hangover brand, created by Mississippi's Magnolia Beverage Company, markets itself as the first ever "Pre-Tox" beverage. 
Resurrection ($4) works by drinking before, or while, consuming alcohol.  According to the marketer, the proprietary herbal blend helps prevent the formation of cytokines, which are free radical by-products, created by the body in response to excessive alcohol consumption.  Cytokines create flu-like effects on the body’s tissues, resulting in headaches and nausea.
In this same vein is the Mercy brand anti-hangover drink, debuting in 2011 from the New York City-based Neu Industries.  According to the company's promotional material, however, Mercy is "targeting a more mature crowd—that is, people with day jobs.”  It’s not just don’t drink and drive these days, but also don’t drink and get downsized.