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The Move Toward Mindfulness

Mindy Armstrong / October 17th 2016

Every morning, or at least a few mornings each week, a stop into a favorite bagel shop starts the day. Legacy Bagelry. It’s warm inside, the staff say hello and ask about the latest project. A bagel and schmear are ordered, a cup of house coffee is poured and a nice spot near the window is spotted to settle in for a bit. It isn’t anything “healthy” necessarily, but an unspoken offer to buy into their doctrinology by choosing their shop over another, simply stated in bold letters across the wall.

It’s a good example of the wider conversation. It’s not just the ingredients that their guests can feel good about; it’s all of the pieces and parts of the visit that add up to a valuable experience. More than the bagels and the fresh coffee, it’s the spirit of the place. It’s the ovens and the music and the heat. It’s the get-there-before-they-run-out-of-asiago-bagels pressure. It’s the feeling that this is “my” place and the comfort of being welcomed as a regular. After all, it can be argued that feeling good about your choices is just as important as making good choices. 

Consumers tell us that what they eat says a lot about who they are, which matters to us as marketers and to us all as social beings. According to Havas Worldwide, nearly 60% of most consumers say this and it jumps to over 70% for millennials. But, as we all know, consumers’ preferences evolve and change over time. And this couldn’t be more true than it is in the area of health and wellness. More and more, it’s becoming an emotional conversation, fed by how we feel and how our decisions are perceived, just as much as it has been fed by how we look and how our bodies are working.

In Legacy’s quiet movement, they ask others to join. To support the local bakery. To love wheat. It’s a small request, but in its simplicity is a bigger story. Perhaps it’s even indicative of the movement that is happening in health and wellness in general. You see, the conversation has evolved. Consumers seek fresh, natural and minimally processed foods. Younger consumers are willing to pay a premium for health attributes. The local farmer’s market has surpassed big brand organics as more consumers put their trust in their local producers and are willing to pay a premium price for local produce and locally grown foods. And healthy categories are growing faster than indulgent categories.

While the conversation is definitely changing, it’s a slow shift. Sure, we’re learning it’s not all about the calorie count and that fat is no longer the bad guy. Indeed, we’re eating less meat (or thinking about it, at least) and considering the impact on the planet for the choices that we make. Yes, we are working to reduce sugar intake and considering that processed foods may need to be limited. But while we’re learning, we are measuring ourselves as we have before. And, guess what? We’re still overweight. Half (49%) of global consumers believe they are overweight, and half (50%) are trying to lose weight.

But, there is good news upon us. Consumers are taking responsibility and realizing that their poor food choices will lead to poor health. In a Havas study, 8 in 10 consumers agree that it’s their responsibility to carefully choose what they eat. Perhaps this is the tipping point we need—more involved and knowledgeable consumers making more informed decisions about their food intake.

This shift is just starting. We’re not throwing our fitbits out the window and loading up on organic GMO-free carbs just yet. Instead, we’re likely buying more tracking devices and attempting to grow our level of awareness. Hey, we didn’t get here overnight and the problems that resulted will not be solved overnight either. Mindfulness, and the movement toward it, will be a topic for years to come.

Written by: Mindy Armstrong, HC Partner & Growth Strategist
Photo credit: Jessica Ozment