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Natural Foods Merchandiser

Connected consumers share values across generations

Getty Images connected generations share food and climate values
No matter their age, consumers who research health and climate issues via the internet tend to share many values.

While millennials tend to differ from baby boomers and even Gen Xers, a recent study by New Hope Network found that some values overlap in consumers across demographic groups.

New Hope reached out to health- and wellness-focused influencers (bloggers) who in turn reached out to their followers to have them respond to a survey that contained the same questions New Hope had offered in its original consumer research.

In these responses, New Hope discovered a “connected consumer,” who fell predominantly across the ages of 25 to 44, primarily millennial and younger Generation X consumers. Still, strong responses came from boomers, too. These connected consumers, who are a representative sample of the natural foods shopper on Instagram or social media, compared with the general population, share similar overall values to those millennials hold. They prioritize:

  • Health.
  • Animal welfare (how animals are treated and whether antibiotics or hormones are used to raise them).
  • Climate awareness.
  • Social responsibility.

In this online space, it was discovered that it doesn’t matter what demographic you fall into, consumers who are online researching or following influencers care about these values no matter their age.

Together connected consumers:

  • Look for natural brands, healthy products and
  • ingredients whenever possible.
  • Try to buy brands that are transparent about what is in the product and how it was sourced.
  • Are concerned about climate change and willing to pay more for products that demonstrate environmentally responsible practices.
  • Want clean ingredients and read labels to avoid ingredients they don’t recognize or can’t pronounce.
  • Recognize the value of organic products and buy organic products because they believe they are better for themselves and for the planet.
  • Are actively trying to eat less meat and focus on a more plant-based diet.
  • Want the full story of how their food was raised and where it is coming from.
  • Will go out of their way to shop at retailers that support the brands they want.

Within this small subset of consumers, New Hope Network Market Research Manager Sari Levy says there were a few standout findings.

“I was a little bit surprised to the extent that people care about animal welfare—how livestock and animals are raised and whether antibiotics or hormones are used—and plant based,” she says. “I am a vegetarian and have been my whole life, so I’m excited to see that.”

She notes the way the research panned out, 40 percent of millennials were focused on plant-based foods, while 34 percent of Gen X and 24 percent of boomers were interested in a plant-based diet. But when they looked at connected consumers with a focus on values rather than on demographic separation, 54 percent of connected consumers are interested in a plant-based diet.

“That is pretty powerful, in my opinion.”

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