Consumers are more complex than any trend piece in the media can portray about Millennials, Baby Boomers or other demographic groups. To understand these nuances and better serve their customers, restaurants and other foodservice brands must get beyond superficial demographic categories and begin studying the behaviors of their core consumers based on what they need, value and think. Technomic Inc. responded to this industry need for behavioral segmentation with its proprietary Eater Archetypes, which break new ground for turning psychographic data into business insights.
In the Chicago-based firm's latest white paper, the Eater Archetypes reveal how psychographic factors can sway consumers with the same age, income or demographic profile toward different foodservice choices:
• Foodservice Usage: Some segments are particularly valuable to foodservice operators. Specifically, Busy Balancers and Functional Eaters, who rely on foodservice to fuel their on-the-go lifestyles, strongly drive foodservice usage at restaurants and convenience stores.
• Brand Patronage: Different needs and lifestyles cause certain Eater Archetypes to gravitate toward different brands. Health Enthusiasts over-index for visiting Subway compared with other limited-service restaurants, while Bargain Hunters show an outsize preference for Burger King, and Habitual Matures over-index for McDonald's.
• Occasion Dynamics: The consumers patronizing a restaurant likely vary by occasion and daypart. For example, afternoon snack occasions and visits with children skew to Busy Balancers, while Functional Eaters drive late-night visits.
"Surface-level demographics aren't enough to help brands drive lasting success anymore, and the Eater Archetypes were designed to help companies truly get their key customers and cut right to what would serve those consumers better," said Sara Monnette, vice president of Technomic and leader of the firm's Consumer Insights practice. "By understanding consumers' interests, opinions, behaviors, lifestyle preferences and habits, brands will be in a better position to understand how their target consumers would respond to new initiatives and products."
After more than a year of development and testing, Eater Archetypes were integrated into Technomic's Consumer Trend Report series in 2014 and into Consumer Brand Metrics in 2015. Chain foodservice brands can partner with Technomic for their own Eater Archetype assessments, in which the brand can identify which EAT segments make up its core users, compare those findings to the brand's competitive set, and design new offerings that align with what its customers need to fit the brand into their lifestyles.