What Drives People to Eat?

You need to think differently about the role that food plays in your consumer’s lives.

Your consumer’s relationship with food is being reframed as they adapt to living in the modern world. Life today is overwhelming and stressful, which puts more demands on our bodies and our minds.

Consumers are spoiled by unlimited choices—from what they watch to what they read to what they eat. Think about the vast array of food imagery and choices you encounter everyday. Food is romanticized, sexualized, desired, and empowered. It takes on the form of love, the image of expression, and so much more. This notion of abundance is challenging the original intent of food, and replacing sustenance with a multitude of meaning.

Mix in the fact that we live in an anxious time where nobody truly knows what tomorrow holds, and many people react with sub-conscious feelings of insecurity and stress. This kick starts a yearning for food that calms our soul. According to Dr. Mark Liponis, Chief Medical Officer of Canyon Ranch, “We crave foods that are high in the fat, salt and sugar because they promote survival.” Simply put, high caloric foods will keep us going until our next feed. As a result, chemicals are released that activate the pleasure center of our brain. We don’t fight or flight, we medicate. Not surprisingly, 52% of people eat more when they are stressed, with unhealthy foods as the top choice on the list.

However, the story doesn’t end here. According to research, 65% of people surveyed said they eat because they enjoy food, while only 24% of people surveyed said they eat because they are actually hungry.

Yet, we are beginning to see the early stages of a shift in food culture, which places focus on its original intention of feeding the body. Doctors are hailing this change as a fresh idea. This “new” science asks us to reframe our relationship with food, and return our eating style to that of a pre-industrialized era. People are learning that whole foods in their purest form are inherently flavorful. Clean whole foods also don’t pollute or enflame the body, but instead provide the strength to thrive in an admittedly difficult environment. A full 85% of people surveyed said they had an interest in eating a clean whole diet but a majority of those people ultimately consumed a balance of both healthy and fun foods.

“Consumers today are about better quality of life, less stress, sleeping well and seeking food products that are health solutions”, says Melissa Abbott, VP of Culinary Insights for The Hartman Group.

Your consumers live in a world of abundance and stress where they are learning how to reframe their relationship with food by feeding their bodies and not just placating their minds. The question is, what role can your brand play in this newly reframed relationship?