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Syndicated Research Highlights: 2018 Year in Review & What’s Ahead in 2019

Organic is more accessible with price less of a barrier. Gen Z may be the first generation where cooking is truly no longer a gendered task. Growing income inequality means a higher share of consumers are low income now than in the past. Formerly staid beverage categories are now in the vanguard of innovation in attributes, ingredients, product design and more.

Group meeting2018 was an extraordinary year for syndicated research. We witnessed an intensification in consumer investment in organic and natural foods, the result of a momentum in both consumer and industry engagement. Gen Z are poised on the threshold to be a major cultural and market force. As fewer households are able to call themselves “middle class,” the traditional consumer base of many brands and grocery stores is gradually eroding. The once familiar beverage space has become a battleground where newcomers and better-for-you categories are seizing share from iconic American brands that remain, for many, a defining feature of the American eating and drinking occasion.

Here are key insights from our four syndicated research reports for 2018 with a look ahead to the lineup of topics for 2019.

The Growing Importance of Organic on Restaurant Menus

Cooking pizzaAn increasing number of consumers are looking for healthier eating choices away from home. With hints of organic, locally sourced products and ingredients, health and wellness, and sustainability tossed into menu options, restaurants and food retailers are trying to take advantage of a cultural shift toward higher-quality experiences. Check out the infographic and order the report.

Are Consumers Hot or Cold on Better-for-You Beverages?

GTs KombuchaA cultural shift from a focus on heart health to the gut has begun. Much of consumers’ current thinking about health revolves around digestion and health of the microbiome as the root of wellness and choosing foods and beverages that help their bodies absorb nutrients most efficiently. This explains why we’re seeing the increasing mainstream interest in probiotic-rich cultured and fermented beverages like kombucha, which contains gut-friendly “good bacteria.” Go in depth and read our article and get your order in to receive our Q4 Modern Beverage Culture report as soon as it becomes available.

Low-Income Shoppers Are Less Likely to Buy Snacks, Treats and Most Fresh Perimeter Categories

Woman looking at food shelfAs income decreases, low-income shoppers tend to buy fewer categories overall, restricting their purchasing to “necessary” categories. When asked about their shopping when they need to save, low-income shoppers tend to list their typical grocery staples and retailers. “Splurge” items tend to be premium and perishable, but “splurge” retailers often reveal deeper food values. Read our article about the link between income inequality and the rise of food insecurity and order the report.

Teens in the Kitchen: How Much Say Do Gen Z Have in What They Eat?

Teens in the KitchenKids alone at home, often after school, face a daily daunting dilemma: what to eat? Today’s teens often put together their own breakfasts, select their own lunches and make their own snacks. Check out the chart in our article showing that seven in ten (70 percent) of Gen Z say they have “total control” over what they eat for snacks. Dinner tends to be the meal most likely eaten with family and thus likely planned and cooked by parents and subject to others’ desires. Get the most in-depth look at Gen Z yet with our report.

For Most Low-Income Shoppers, Food and Beverage Shopping Is Driven by Payday Cycles

Shopping couponsFor most low-income shoppers, payday shopping is their regular shopping: 63% of low-income shoppers do most of their shopping after payday (vs 30% of mid/high-income shoppers). While they like a good deal, their slim budgets often mean they can’t take advantage of many promotions. Instead, they focus on reducing their overall food purchasing and usage — they simply buy less. Our infographic shows how consumers would spend an extra $100 per week if they had it. Get the report.

What’s Ahead in 2019

In the New Year, our syndicated research gets even more exciting as we delve into two new topics along with two of The Hartman Group’s signature knowledge pillars.

We’ll kick off 2019 with our foundational Health + Wellness study. Essential reading for any company involved in the wellness marketplace, Health + Wellness 2019 will update and extend on our previous work, providing more than a decade of trended data as well as highlighting new challenges and opportunities.

Following this in Q2 2019 will be a new study on one of today’s hottest topics: Food and Technology: From Lab-Grown to Plant-Based. At the heart of many of the most influential food trends — from organic and farm-to-table to “ancestral” diets and veganism — is the idea that more inherently natural food is both healthier and more sustainable. Over and over again, we hear consumers say they don’t want to eat something “made in a lab.” How do consumers understand and articulate the tension between technological innovations — often thought of as “processing” — and their desire for “less processed,” natural food? What drives trial of novel foods like the Impossible Burger, and what will drive repeat purchase as categories such as cellular agriculture continue to evolve and mature? What personal benefits do consumers believe these foods offer?

The third quarter sees us going back to our roots with Sustainability & Transparency 2019. With updates to more than a decade of trended data sets and new insights from progressive sustainability consumers, Sustainability & Transparency 2019 will provide a thorough understanding of what consumers are looking for now, what issues are on the horizon and how the sustainability mindset and marketplace have changed over the years. With ever-increasing consumer expectations for transparency and ethical behavior in the food industry, Sustainability & Transparency 2019 will offer food companies, retailers and restaurants key learnings on consumer expectations, opportunity areas and challenges.

Our fourth study for the year is another new topic: Exploring the Diversity of American Foodways. As the American consumer evolves to represent an ever more ethnically diverse and globally connected population, American food culture and trends reflect — and are driven by — this new sense of diversity. Join us as we explore how the changing face of America is influencing the American palate. This study will highlight the foodways of typically underreported households in America, including African Americans, Hispanics and immigrant communities. We will ultimately capture what the future of “American food” will likely be by examining cooking, eating and shopping behaviors of these and other diverse consumers. Exploring the Diversity of American Foodways will illuminate these understudied consumers for the food manufacturers, retailers, distributers and restaurants that serve them.

Interested in these four studies? Special savings when you sign up early! For details and deadlines, contact:


Consumer Demographics Food & Beverage Occasions Consumer Package Goods Culture Health & Wellness Organic/Natural Private Label and National Brands Retail/Shopper Insights Technology/Social Media Sustainability Trends Point Of View Foodservice/Restaurant


As leaders in the study of American food culture, The Hartman Group has been tracking how Americans shop for food since the 1990s. From one-stop shopping to multichannel shopping to online markets and click-and-collect, we continue to track consumers’ evolving perceptions, needs, habits and relationships with food retailers. New to the 2017 report is a special section on the expansion of the discount grocery channel, the emerging fresh-format channel and smaller-footprint retail formats.


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