Nonfoods Talk: The face of the new consumer

To paraphrase Bob Dylan, consumers—they are a changin’.

As the media reported in late May, the demographics of America have evolved. The press reported that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, non-Hispanic whites now make up less than 50% of all births in this country. This milestone, expected for years by demographers and others, shows that the American consumer is changing from a basically white, European shopper to one that is now more Hispanic, black, Asian or mixed race.

With the exception of the baby food and cereal aisles, this change may have its greatest impact on the health and beauty care category. The bottom line is that different consumers have different needs and desires and that will require HBC buyers at chains across the country to take a close look at what their current shoppers want, what they purchase and even when they purchase items.

So say goodbye to the cookie-cutter approach to merchandising in the HBC aisles. Now, retailers must look at their individual stores and determine exactly who lives in the immediate area and what do they want. Frankly, this will have the most immediate impact on the baby care, skin care and over-the-counter markets, though there are few segments that will not be affected as some point in the near future.

The aggressive retailers in these areas have added products that first- and second-generation immigrants may be familiar with from their homelands, while also stocking an array of merchandise that these shoppers may be tempted to try as a solution to a problem. Finding the right mix is a challenge, many retailers say. Now retailers in other parts of the country prepare as more non-white shoppers move into their areas.

The fact is that the minority is becoming the majority and that means that businesses in other parts of other country must be ready to offer these shoppers the products they need and demand. Welcome to 21st century America. 

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