New data from Attest shows that although most consumers in the U.S. (64%) have a positive outlook for 2023, fears about food security weigh heavily on their minds.
“Struggling to pay for food” topped the list of things consumers are most worried about heading into the new year, with 24% expressing this concern. This is well above other challenges like covering the cost of gas (18%), political upheaval (16%), and paying energy bills (10%).
Not surprisingly, budget-related troubles are causing most shoppers (59%) to spend with some degree of caution — this percentage is up 10% from last year. Only 22% say they’re spending freely.
Food prices changing where and how Americans eat
Nearly 40% of consumers say it’s challenging to afford eating out amid rising prices, which could be why more than half (52%) of Americans are managing their budget by making more food at home. A smaller 12% have cut out their meal kit subscriptions in response to inflation.
But even if they’re eating more at home, the vast majority (86%) of shoppers report that rising food prices are impacting their diet — 34% of those say it’s having a major impact. Many are struggling to afford quality fresh foods like meat, fruits, and vegetables (41%); their preferred brands (34%); and luxury items like steak, shrimp, and olive oil (33%). Some (27%) are also finding it difficult to afford convenience foods like snacks and prepared meals.
Consumers want feel-good messaging, brands to support issues
Under these tough circumstances, positive messages from brands can go a long way. Messages that are funny (51%), motivational (49%), and reassuring (39%) are most likely to appeal to consumers. Younger consumers (Gen Z and Millennials) are more likely to respond to motivational messages than humorous ones, and Gen Z is twice as interested in inclusive messages than older generations.
Most consumers (79%) are also looking for brands to take a stand on important causes, including poverty and inequality (36%), racism (31%), and women’s rights (30%). Climate change (30%) and gun violence (29%) are also among the issues consumers most want brands to take action on.
Sustainability still sways consumer actions, purchases
Despite rising costs, a number of consumers are making room for sustainability — more than half (54%) are recycling, 27% are using less single-use plastic, and 18% are purchasing from environmentally-friendly brands. A smaller percentage (17%) are eating more plant-based foods as a sustainable practice.
For more insights into the latest consumer trends, see Attest’s full report.