Home alone - Europe's changing demographics

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Organic foods, Organic food, Consumer, Consumer protection

Is our future a lonely one? According to market analysts
Datamonitor - yes. The company has just released a report that
predicts by 2005 Europe will have five million more single people,
eleven million fewer people living as part of a family and an
additional 1.4 million couples without kids. How should food
companies interpret these figures and where should they drive
innovation?

Is our future a lonely one? According to market analysts Datamonitor - yes. The company has just released a report that predicts by 2005 Europe will have five million more single people, eleven million fewer people living as part of a family and an additional 1.4 million couples without kids.

At the same time, as the old get even older, the younger members of our society will shrink. According to the report, the number of under-18s will have shrunk by nearly three and half million while the number of retirees willincrease by 6 million. So how will this have an impact on spending habits? Datamonitor reports that today's consumer is unrecognisable from that of the mid to late 80s - today we're moreindividualistic and desire that our purchases reflect a different set of personal values.

Examining food habits reveals that vegetarianism is on thewane while 'meat-reducing' is in vogue. Many marketers, writes Datamonitor, are underestimating how these changes will affect their market. Accounting for the latest consumer developments, especially the new and emerging consumer groups, willbe essential in the future.

Firstly, the report continues, the focus of marketing is changing and marketers need to segment their consumer audiences in a manner that allows interpretation of consumer lifestyles, behaviour and needs. Secondly, a number of specific food, drinks and personal care consumer groups haveemerged which marketers need to be aware of.

Family life continues to change with the number of people living in nuclearfamily units declining, leading to a growth of consumers classified as either 'singles' or 'couple without kids' or 'single parents'. In 2000, 37.1 per centof the population of Europe lived as part of a nuclear family unit, but Datamonitor predicts that this will decrease to 34.1 per cent, or 132.7 million consumers, by 2005. In such a short space of time this represents a massive social change, and the increasing population classified as 'singles' over the period, up from 75.6 million in 2000 to 81.0 million in 2005, indicates that marketers will need to reassess product and sales strategies to account for this.

In addition, two more marketing groups are set to grow - 1.4 million 'couples without kids',otherwise known by the pseudonynm DINKYs (Dual Income No Kids Yet), in 2005 when compared to 2000. The second group on the up is those folks over the age of 50 without dependent children. In 2000 there were 58.9 million people belonging to thisgroup, but this is set to increase to 63.7 million in 2005.

Datamonitor writes: "The ageing of the population is much talked about, but the statistics are still staggering and will force those involved in youth marketing to think again."

The number of people in the seniors group (those aged over 50) will increase from 121.8 million in 1995 to 139.9 million in 2005. The number of retirees, who have free time and often havelarge amounts of disposable income, will increase from 75.5 million in Europe in 2000 to 81.1 million in 2005.

Modern lifestyles will also change the age pattern at the other end of thescale. Single lifestyles, people delaying marriage and childbirth and thepursuit of the career has already caused the size of the youth market tofall and this trend will continue. The number of children aged between 3 and9 years old in Europe will fall from 2000 levels by 2.6 million to reach30.8 million in 2005. There will also be a reduction in the number ofbabies, teenagers and "tweenagers" (those between 10 and 13 years old) overthe same period.

"These massive demographic changes will force marketers to reassess their priorities. With numbers in the youth market dwindling and the emergence of a greater number of increasingly aspiring consumers over the age of 50, youth marketing may remain cool, but there may be "cooler" money to be madeelsewhere,"​ comments Piers Berezai, Datamonitor consumer analyst and authorof the report.

The consumer of tomorrow will be concerned about health, food ethics and indulgence and will demand products that offer one or more of these features. As a result, different types of purchasing behaviour are emerging.

According to Datamonitor, more consumers are choosing vegetables over red meats, organic foods over non-organic, services over conducting chores and "added-value" functional goods with specific health benefits.

In addition, vegetarianism appears to be a trend on the wane, and is being gradually overshadowed by the growing number of 'meat reducers'. Despite rapid development in the 1980s and early 1990s, future growth will be much slower. In 2000 there were 11.3 million vegetarians, this is forecast to increase to 12.1 million in 2005. But the consumer is keen to reduce meat consumption, especially red meat, in order to maintain and improve health. The ever-increasing group of 'meat reducers', which numbered 135.2 million in2000, will increase to 146.8 million in 2005.

Organic foods have now become a familiar sight on retailers' shelves, butthere are two very different types of organic food consumers. First, writes Datamonitor​, there are the 'loyal users' who regularly consume organic goods and try to make as many organic food purchases as possible. Secondly, there are the 'occasional users' who infrequently purchase and consume organic foods, or only consume organic foods from one category.

Overall, in 2000 there were 16.1 millionloyal users in Europe and this is set to increase to 46.1 million by 2005.Indeed, although the occasional users group will increase from 101.7 millionconsumers to 161.1 million over the same period, loyal users will account for a greater share of all people eating organic foods and drinks in 2005 than in 2000. This represents a reversal of the trend between 1995 and 2000.

Turning to the ever-burgeoning trend of functional foods, in both food and drinks and personal care, consumers it seems are not happy with just the basic functions - they want more. The incorporation of ingredients with specific health benefits into goods appears to meet thatneed.

In 1995 the number of 'functional consumers', people who regularly eat nutraceuticals such as Yakult and Benecol products, stood at 5.4 million. In 2000 this had increased dramatically to 16.3 million, and is now set to reach 24.0 million consumers by 2005.

Related topics: Market Trends

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