Blog: Chris Brook-CarterHedonism is everywhere - even at Drinktec

Chris Brook-Carter | 16 September 2009

The giant supplier and technology show Drinktec is running in Munich this week. While swathes of the exhibitors in the 12 or so halls are exclusively aimed at the drinks industry, the halls dedicated to ingredients and technology allowed me to wear both my drinks and food hats at the same time.

The sheer size of the show and some of the stands – Cargill's efforts for instance practically filled a whole exhibition hall on its own – are the most obvious memories I'll take away.

But, even more encouraging, was the positive atmosphere that pervaded the exhibition halls. It's at this level, among the engineers, food ingredient scientists and developers that you see innovation in the food and drinks industry at its most raw and there was a clear sense this agenda was alive and well despite the global economy.

As well as stand hopping, we managed to cram in a few of the seminars over the last couple of days, and it's worth mentioning a seminar I attended that was hosted by research company AC Nielsen. A study by the group demonstrated why the ingredients and technology companies – those in the health and wellness sectors especially – will be key in driving growth in the food industry over the coming years.

The AC Nielsen study was on a newly identified group of consumers known as LOHAS – which stands for Lifestyle of Health and Sustainability.

Like many other marketing exercises, this was a term originally coined in the US.

However, our man at AC Nielsen, Harald Eirund, argued that this was not another esoteric new group but a hugely important band of consumers who already account for 30% of all German consumers and 20% of all those buying FMCG products in the US.

Furthermore, they have already affected the strategies of retailers from the supermarkets to the discounters and from producers of chocolate to beer.

AC Nielsen started to track these consumers two years ago and has subsequently split Lohas into seven subsets: mature, community, ideologists, frugal preservers, trendy hedonists, body conscious and bargain hunters.

Eirund's main point was that Lohas was not only a real and important group of consumers but also not a fad. “We are not talking about about young, hip households, but older people too, people who love to spend money and love to live.”

They are growing too on the back of rising levels of environmental discussion and climate issues.

As I bid farewell to Munich then, I'll leave you with this thought from Eirund's presentation on Lohas, which proved to be the quote of the week so far, when trying to describe the Lohas subset 'Trendy Hedonists'.

“They have a lot in common with the rest of Lohas,” he said, “as there is hedonism everywhere.”

Hear, hear.

Chris Brook-Carter, just-food and just-drinks publishing director


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