Consumer Insight: Baby Boomers

May 11, 2018
Consumer Snacks Trends
Click here for the full report

Born between 1946-1964, Baby Boomers have taken a back seat to their Millennial children in some respects. But with $2.6 Trillion in buying power and the top spenders in nearly every category, Boomers are a generation to keep your eye on. At 73.4 million strong, their focus in life has changed over the past couple of years and like Millennials they are in a time of transition, focusing more on their health, clean eating, leisure and spending quality time with their families.

Boomers & Labels

Health conscious baby boomers are reading between the lines and looking to food and beverage labels for a variety of reasons. Their main concern? Knowing that a product is healthy. Across all demographics we continue to see consumers making connections between food and health. Boomers are focused on staying healthy and are “aware of putting food into their body and how it makes them feel,” says Melissa Abbott, vice-president of culinary insights at the Hartman Group.

Even though 90% of marketing dollars target Millennials, Boomers are trend drivers and just as likely as Millennials to snack on healthy foods, seek organic or natural foods and fresh ingredients. Baby Boomers (33%) are more than twice as likely as Millennials (15%) to prioritize wanting product labels that provided information they can better understand as the top priority, while Millennials (17%) are nearly twice as likely as Baby Boomers (9%) to point to more organic food and product options as the most important change brands and retailers could make.

• 84% of baby boomers believe that “natural” on a product label is not necessary
• 72% of Baby Boomers are reading labels on food or beverage products to know that the product is healthy
• 51% of Baby Boomers are reading labels on food or beverage products to know that the product is safe

Healthy Lifestyles

Baby Boomers are placing a greater importance on healthier lifestyles than previous generations, and they are willing to spend money on products they believe will help them achieve longer, more active lives. In fact, Boomers spend more of their grocery budget on health and wellness products than other generations, says Patrick Luchsinger, marketing manager of nutrition for Ingredion. They have helped drive dietary supplement to sales of $132.8 billion in 2016, with expected growth to $220.3 billion by 2022.

Morgan Stanley reported that Boomers are expected to spend 3.4% more on health than their parents did, and that between now and 2060, the market will grow by 1.04% annually due to new customers alone.
According to IFIC, 49% of Boomers are more interested than Millennials in functional foods, such as fiber, carotenoids, probiotics and vitamin fortification. Boomers are interested in foods associated with healthy aging, bone health, weight management, cardiovascular health and digestive health.

Products of Note

• Boost Simply Complete Vanilla Bean Nutritional Drink: Nine ingredients plus 25 vitamins and minerals for complete nutrition and a delicious taste. Includes 10 g of protein for muscle health plus calcium, vitamin D and magnesium to support strong bones.
Consumer Verbatim: “This would be an indulgence because of the price but looks very interesting.” -Female, South, 55+

• Kellogg's Special K Nourish Berries & Peaches Cereal: A mix of crunchy flakes combined with a blend of real peaches, blueberries, raspberries, and yogurty pieces with probiotics and is a good source of fiber.
Consumer Verbatim: “It looks delicious and I like that it contains probiotics.” -Female, South, 55+


NPD research finds that Boomers eat ready-to-eat snack food 20% more often than Millennials. Boomers snack because they don’t want to prepare a big meal and eat alone more often than other age groups. They choose snacks based on taste and craving, and while the healthy choice of fruit is tops for both generations, we see Boomers’ drive for healthy eating with their selections of nuts and yogurt, versus tortilla chips and cookies for Millennials.

According to Iconoculture, consumers are viewing snacks as a positive addition to their day, and even planning them out more frequently, and intentionally incorporating them into their diet. For consumers, snacking has gotten healthier in the last 5 years and new product innovation is steering consumers in a different direction.


• 43% of baby boomers believe taste is more important than health for salty snacks. -Mintel
• 42% of baby boomer snack because it feels like an indulgence. -Iconoculture

Top Boomer Snacks

  1. Fruit

  2. Chocolate Candy/Candy Bars

  3. Potato Chips

  4. Nuts

  5. Yogurt

Top Millennial Snacks

  1. Fruit

  2. Chocolate Candy/Candy Bars

  3. Potato Chips

  4. Tortilla Chips

  5. Cookies

“I usually do [planned] snacks Monday to Friday more on a schedule, with less of a schedule on the weekends.” -Donna, Caucasian Boomer, Ohio

Seeking Value at Restaurants

Baby Boomers may have strong spending power, but the value of their dollar is key, especially when dining at restaurants. This can definitely lead to ordering menu items that they have ordered in the past to ensure they are not disappointed in trying something new. According to Technomic, Baby Boomers are showing a growing tendency to forgo new flavors while dining out, while Millennials and Gen X are driving the demand for new and unique flavors.

Restaurant Business magazine reports the top global cuisines preferred by Boomers are still Italian, Chinese and Mexican, but many are “also interested in regional cuisines within those categories—such as Sicilian cuisine, Szechuan and Oaxacan, respectively.” Experimenting with regional flavors and dishes provides Boomer opportunities to experiment with food and flavor within the comfort of a cuisine they are familiar with and enjoy. Baby Boomers want strong, interesting flavors that remind them of their travels and provide a flavor kick for less sensitive taste buds, but they aren’t necessarily adventurous eaters.
• Convenience, affordable, and familiar menu items are the top motivators for Baby Boomers to dine at chain restaurants.

• 84% of Baby Boomers eat at casual dining restaurants most often.

• 74% of Baby Boomers prefer chain restaurants over independent, local restaurants.

The Takeaways

Baby Boomers continue to provide businesses with opportunities for innovation and sales and shouldn’t be overlooked by marketers and product developers pursuing Millennial dollars. Boomers have the big bucks -- and there’s a lot of members, which means a lot of consumers interested in making purchases for pleasure and for health. “Serving the needs of over 100 million people is an opportunity,” says Jody Holtzman, AARP’s senior vice president of thought leadership. And for product developers, flavor and functionality are two huge areas of opportunity to explore to reconnect with this currently under-appreciated demographic.

Click here for the full report

You deserve more. let’s get started.

What does true partnership look like? You deserve a flavor partner ready to turn these trends into the tangible.

Let FONA’s market insight and research experts get to work for you. Translate these trends into bold new ideas for your brand. Increase market share and get to your “what’s next.” Our technical flavor and product development experts are also at your service to help meet the labeling and flavor profile needs for your products to capitalize on this consumer trend. Let’s mesh the complexities of flavor with your brand development, technical requirements and regulatory needs to deliver a complete taste solution. From concept to manufacturing, we’re here for you — every step of the way.

Contact our sales service department at 630.578.8600 to request a flavor sample or chat us up at

Sources in full report