Functional Food Marketing to Target Baby Boomers

Aging consumers often turn to natural foods and beverages to delay or prevent specific diseases from developing.  If those options don’t deliver the desired results, consumers over age 55 select the next best thing – over the counter and prescription medications. Vendors who understand what drives purchasing behavior in this demographic and the concerns about chronic diseases stand to benefit by marketing solutions for these problems.

SymphonyIRI Group, in its  “Healthcare III: Understanding the Age-​Driven Health & Wellness Needs of Baby Boomers,” report, notes that the age 55+ group is a unique demographic because these consumers:

  • Represent 1/​3rd of the population
  • Control 50% of discretionary income
  • Fill prescriptions at a rate that is 30% higher than average

This group is also worried about 4 major chronic conditions and takes specific purchasing action as follows:

  • High Blood Pressure: Nearly 90% of consumers with this condition take medication but almost ½ of the group believes that a healthy diet makes a difference and seeks out  products that contain high fiber and low sodium.
  • Diabetes: To control weight and the underlying condition, consumers in this group are looking for sugar-​free candy, low-​calorie soft drinks and single-​serving meals.
  • High Cholesterol: Prescription medications should be combined with a healthy diet so people in this group purchase reduced-​fat and low-cholesterol.
  • Heartburn/​Acid Reflux: While food may play a role here,  consumers usually reach for prescription medications and non-​prescription solutions such as antacid tablets, liquids and powders.

Sean Seitzinger,  a partner with SymphonyIRI Group Consulting & Innovation, says a large percentage of these shoppers frequent the grocery store to buy products to help them improve their quality of life.  While price is mentioned by many consumers as an obstacle to purchasing healthy-​for-​you products, these shoppers also say that stores do not maintain sufficient stock. In addition, these products can be hard to locate in the store.

Seitzinger notes, “[f]unctional foods with specific health benefits represent a major opportunity for food and beverage manufacturers.” As consumers seek out more healthful solutions to prevent chronic conditions, expect marketers to develop and advertise new products.
[Source: SymphonyIRI Group’s Health & Wellness Report Finds Major “Disease State” Opportunities as Baby Boomers Age. SymphonyIRI Group. 31 Mar. 2010. Web. 15 Apr. 2010] 

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.