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  • Writer's picturegfmeade7


You may not be aware of how food marketing works these days, but whether you like it or not you have been classified in a type of food consumer class system. Every time you order a meal or walk into a supermarket you are showing all the signs of the grade or grouping allocated to you.  It really most demonstrated of course when you actually eat, either at home or away. You do not need to be spied on for this information to be collected or fill out any surveys; the fact is your particular type exists with all its criteria and big food knows how to exactly provide for you.

    The first type is the uninterested customer who has no desire to learn about food, it’s just fuel for them and the cheaper and faster it is the happier they are. They will sometimes have no idea how to cook and have no ambition to learn. They will not care where the food comes from as long as it’s within in their budget and not gone off. Sometimes the only thing that will flick their food switch is when they become ill and their bad diet is going to kill them.

Then there are the conservative eaters who respect quality but stick rigidly to their tried and trusted limited menu and will probably live on it until their very last supper. They will have had many an anxious moment as adults when confronted with the prospect of having to actually taste something they never had before.

I once sat beside someone at a plush dinner who ate almost nothing except the bread and butter and grimaced in horror at what was presented before them on each course. They are an unlucky product of their unfoodie traditional upbringing. We truly are influenced by the household we grow up in and the parents we have, how they cooked and what they ate. Some do manage to break out and change their tastes.

   Then we have the logical, calculating shoppers who are all about cost, the recipe and even the goodness of the dish. For them it’s an equation to be worked out and they will be happy when it all adds up to their estimate and this will be as satisfying as the meal itself. There will be no spontaneous items getting popped into their trolley. They think a lot about their food and I sometimes get interrogated by these types of consumers when I am spotted in a restaurant or supermarket.

      Next there is the liberal eater who is game for all new products, tastes and trends. They are a dream for the marketing teams who must keep the next best things coming to the consumer. They will pack their trolleys with all the exotic ingredients and when eating out they will be trying any dish they never had before or the daily specials. I will get cornered by these too from time to time. They worship TV chefs and will flock to the food festivals and on holidays are the ones most liable to end up with food poisoning having eaten with abandon as food for them is just one big adventure.

Finally there is the health and eco conscious which now extends to many subsections like vegan and allergen customers who are an ever expanding market to say the least. They will be looking for all the low calorie versions of products and be very climate conscious too wanting to buy seasonal foods and concerned about air miles as well as e numbers.

The irony is that some of the healthier stuff is more expensive or damaging to produce or source so there is a paradox for them to deal with. So which one are you? Sadly there is no grading for us chefs as we are part of the food world and we get to look at everyone else from the inside out and what a fascinating picture it shows. The modern consumer is a very complex character in a constantly changing market place as the nature of our diet spins off at a warp speed to who knows where. I can only wish you a safe journey on what is a precarious mission for today’s shopper.

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