24 December 2019, 10:04 AM
  • Nick Wyke explores three more key social groups and how indie retailers can best position their offerings
How to identify foodie tribes: Part Two

This large group, we are reliably informed, is the one watching the most terrestrial TV (younger audiences are streaming content on demand). But all that food programming, as well as Radio 4, The Archers and urban-living offspring keep them up-to-speed on food fads and farming issues.

What are they looking for?
Baby Boomers (the post-war generation born between 1946 and 1964) say taste matters more than the convenience that Millennials prize so highly. They find both, however, in the likes of gourmet ready meals. They are seeking quality, awards badges, and to recreate a product or dish that they’ve tried abroad. Meat still plays an important part in the week’s menu and their local deli is a great place to buy reliable meat products from farmers they might even know. They are loyal to trusted places and products. Many Baby Boomers are interested in expanding their culinary horizons while keeping an eye on health concerns such as managing their salt intake.

What’s in their shopping basket?
Locally sourced cheeses and charcuterie; gourmet ready-meals such as casseroles, lasagnes, fish pies and tagines, made using free-range meat and with a focus on sustainable ingredients, homemade pies, pâtés, deluxe hampers, wine and gin.

How can you best direct/signpost them to these products/foods?
Find that sweet spot that offers bothquality, taste and value for their hard-earned savings. Pallant of Arundel, a specialist delicatessen and wine merchant in the heart of the West Sussex town, largely relies on its well established reputation and an annual mailshot in a local magazine promoting its seasonal hampers. So far, so traditional. However, it has found staying open until 9pm on Friday to be fruitful. “We serve charcuterie, cheeses and open a few bottles of wine to sell by the glass, including one from the surrounding vineyards. It’s about creating the right environment in the shop. People will often take home extra edibles or a bottle of the wine they’ve tasted,” says Mark Robinson, co-owner of Pallant.
As with many independent food stores in coastal towns around the country, the core customer at The Norfolk Deli is often a retired individual or couple. So, always looking for new ways to cater to the needs of his clientele, Mark Kacary offers a custom-made service to his regulars. “Not everyone wants to pay the premium for better quality meals. They bring in their own dish and ask us to make, say, a moussaka, then they can take it home and pass it off as their own.”

A growing group of people that can be seen examining the ingredients list on the side of packaging. It’s a wide spectrum ranging from people with a medically-diagnosed food allergy who can’t eat gluten, dairy, or nuts, for example, to a wider group who ‘believe’ themselves to be allergic or intolerant to one or more foods.

What are they looking for?
Whether it’s shellfish, eggs or cow’s milk, they are seeking to avoid foods and ingredients that may trigger an adverse reaction for them. They want clearly labelled foods and wider ranges of specially manufactured free-from foods.

What’s in their shopping basket?
Freshly baked specialist bread, carefully selected gluten-free goods such as pasta, quiche, biscuits and brownies, alternative milks and vegan foods.

How can you best direct/signpost them to these products/foods?
“Our staff are fully trained to provide information on allergen-free products and we often give advice to people cooking for others with specific dietary requirements,” says Cooke. ‘Over recent years we always ensure there are gluten-free and dairy-free products on the salad and cake counters, as well as in the restaurant. In-store tastings of free-from products are the best way to generate interest and introduce customers to new items. These tastings usually go hand-in-hand with social
media campaigns to promote the product. It’s lovely to introduce people to new products who previously might have assumed that allergen-free foods were tasteless.”
At Delilah Fine Foods in Nottingham they have seen a huge surge in this group but don’t have a dedicated free-from section as they feel that most packaging already covers this clearly. They will, however, highlight products like wine where the labelling is not always so obvious and it can be harder to know if it’s, say, vegan or sulphite-free. “On our fresh products we have found that by using a label such as ‘Chocolate cake (suitable for vegans)’ we have much less waste than when we labelled it ‘Vegan only,’” says the owner Sangita Tryner.

Usually people working in local businesses who can’t stomach the thought of a pre-packaged supermarket sandwich for lunch every day. Independent food stores in urban areas tend to thrive on this daily flow of discerning customers.

What are they looking for?
Quality and variety. A choice of different breads and flavour combinations that they might have tasted at a street food market.

What’s in their shopping basket?
Freshly made sandwiches, toasties and wraps, daily-changing seasonal salads and soups, and freshly brewed coffee. A cake or snack for the afternoon and occasionally an ingredient or two for supper.

How can you best direct/signpost them to these products/foods?
“Our two neighbourhood stores rely on a lot of repeat customers,” says Ian James, founder of Melrose and Morgan in London. “For the lunchtime crowd we make sure they know the price point before they order. People often have a fixed budget to spend on lunch and we don’t want them to feel caught out at the till.”
Mark Kacary has busy lunchtimes during the summer holidays when people are looking for freshly made sandwiches rather than “dull, grab-and-go supermarket” products. His aim is to give people a better lunchtime experience and Instagram works well to promote such offerings as the US-style Vego Ego, a combination of nut butter, red onion, avocado spinach leaves and a chilli mango chutney. “Generous fillings and some unusual combinations, that’s what makes us different. Word of mouth also works well with many people telling us they’ve enjoyed the best sandwich they’ve ever had.”

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