Storecheck USA – the trends of the American market
What is currently filling US supermarket shelves? We got to the bottom of this question during our store check in the “land of unlimited opportunity. In the following, we present the most important trends from the USA, with an exciting “outsider” at the end.
Gluten-free foods are in vogue – clearly also in Europe, but especially in the USA. There are three main reasons why approximately one in three Americans now eats a gluten-free diet, either completely or to a large extent:
1. diagnostics for celiac disease have improved significantly in recent decades, so far more people now know they suffer from the condition. And most of these people naturally adhere to the dietary guidelines.
2. fewer and fewer people can tolerate wheat. This has been scientifically proven.
3. many celebrities in the USA swear by a gluten-free diet. Ever since stars like Miley Cyrus and Gwyneth Paltrow raved about feeling better, slimmer, more beautiful and overall healthier by avoiding foods containing gluten, there have been numerous imitators.
Plant-based meat alternatives
Much like the gluten-free trend, the vegan trend in the U.S. has a lot of supporters. A notable portion of the vegan trend relates to plant-based meat alternatives. Brands from the States in particular are continuously developing the latter. During our store check in the U.S., we came across some creatively designed and packaged meat alternatives.
More and more foods on U.S. supermarket shelves are coming with “organic” printed on them. Organic is a big trend. That’s not surprising; after all, in a sense, it goes hand-in-hand with several other major trends: environmental protection, sustainability and increased health awareness.
Organic products are “greener” and very popular with many consumers in the United States. So it’s only logical that supermarkets are taking their cues from consumers and stocking their shelves with organic products, which logically also encourages food companies to focus more on organic quality.
Fewer calories and sugar
In line with consumers’ increased health awareness, our analysis of supermarket shelves in the USA also revealed a large number of products that focus on reducing calories and sugar. Often, the front of the packaging contains prominent statements to this effect, such as “just 130 calories” or “56 % less sugar. This trend has already arrived in Europe and is likely to increase.
Another big trend in the USA is “food on the go. The trend is easy to explain: People are spending less and less time at home. For most people, school, university and work take place off-site anyway. But leisure activities are also increasingly moving out of the home and into the outdoors or other facilities.
This new lifestyle automatically leads to a significant change in eating behavior: People are constantly on the go, so to speak. That’s why there are so many products in supermarkets in the U.S. that are designed as ready-made meals for people on the go. Mini lunch kits for children and schoolchildren are particularly popular at the moment.
Snacks, snacks and more snacks
Another US trend that is also gaining ground in Europe is snacking. Basically, it goes hand in hand with “takeaway food.” Snacks are practical mini meals for the long and intense day outside your own home or apartment. They are literally easy to transport and quick to consume – and that’s what matters to people. In terms of snack type, crackers are particularly trendy.
Sparkling water with alcohol
In the beverage segment, there is also a very big trend in the United States: Sparkling Water with alcohol. Hard seltzer, as the alcoholic sparkling water is called, appeals to different target groups: for example, people who drink less alcohol in everyday life but don’t want to give it up completely, but also friends of refreshing drinks with that certain something.
Supplements also for children
Nutritional supplements are booming. During our intensive store check in the USA, two new developments caught our eye in this regard: On the one hand, more supplements are now being produced specifically for children; on the other, companies are apparently making an effort to put kids’ NEMs in particular into a tasty and inviting candy form, as shown by the vitamin D gummies, for example.
Positive emotions, clear conscience
One thing struck us particularly strongly when analyzing the trends of the American market: The designs of the packagings emotionalize. They express what is close to the heart of the modern consumer: “You want to eat with pleasure, without having to have a guilty conscience. You want to feel vital, fit, relaxed and calm afterwards and simply happy both during and after consumption. We make all that possible for you.”
In other words, many people consume to positively influence their well-being. And the products are geared to this need of most consumers, who want to enjoy without regret, both in terms of content and visually via the packaging design.
However, there are also interesting counter-designs that also aim to emotionalize, but with an alternative focus.
Example of such a counter-design: It’s sugar
The US candy store ‘It’s sugar’ is an exciting example of such an alternative concept. The name says it all, because this company is all about sweets with sugar. What’s special about it is that the company doesn’t even try to hide this fact, but deliberately flirts with it:
“Less rules, more sugar”
“Absolutely no nutritional value added
It’s not as if (highly) sugary products are no longer sold these days. But most brands strive to distract from this by deliberately emphasizing other features of the products, such as organic quality, fair trade, vegan, gluten-free and so on. Why? Because sugar has negative connotations.
So while the majority of brands try to steer consumers’ attention away from the negative features of the products, ‘It’s sugar’ takes the opposite approach, along the lines of, “Yes, sugar is bad. We don’t deny that. But sometimes you just have to enjoy it.” With extremely creative advertising claims, the company manages to turn the disadvantage into an advantage in its market presence.
What does this tell us? Perhaps that you don’t necessarily have to go with the flow to put yourself in a top position in the market and be successful. More important are honesty and creativity. In many cases, this combination leads to something outstanding.