To understand what consumers want and need, study the outliers

July 5, 2016

A nation of so-called “food tribes” is demanding more nutritious, more carefully sourced and more affordable food. Food tribes are the engaged, passionate, self-aware consumers who are confident enough to challenge convention in pursuit of better options for themselves and for others.

While only a small portion of the U.S. population fits into a food tribe such freegan, gluten-free, urban homesteading or paleo, understanding the values, behaviors and needs of these groups can inspire companies to innovate for bigger groups of consumers, says Eric Pierce, director of data and insights for New Hope Network, in this presentation from Natural Products Expo East 2015.

This approach—studying the outliers—works because it gives companies an opportunity to connect deeply with people who need something from them. Simply studying a bell curve or the mythical “average person” doesn’t take into account that there isn’t just one food movement happening—there are many different ones that are driving change in this market.

“If we’re looking at and solving problems based on this average, honestly my experience was that were developing uninspired, mediocre boring products," Pierce said. "They served a lot of people, but they didn’t really do so in a meaningful way.”

In this presentation, learn:

  • What food tribes are driving change in the market.

  • What motivates these different tribes.

  • How companies can take an understanding of the values and behaviors of food tribes and connect them to mainstream consumers to inspire innovation.

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