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   The Silent Generation’s Life Stages & Experiences Influence Produce Consumption
by Category Partners
Posted: Thursday, October 12, 2017 at 9:14AM EDT

Idaho Falls, ID  – With a perpetual buzz surrounding how to respond to millennial and Gen Z needs, it seems one of today’s key generations often is overlooked in the retail world – the silents.

Shaped early by the Great Depression and WWII – and today, by smaller households and older age – this generation’s “waste not, want not” attitude and demand for quality, simplicity and traditional values, are apparent in their behaviors and attitudes toward produce shopping. These insights were revealed in the recent “Barriers to Purchase” (BTP) study, which surveyed 4,000 produce shoppers nationwide, evenly split among millennial, Generation X, baby boomer and silent generations.

Unlike their younger counterparts, silents – ages 72-89 – aren’t as swayed by the rise of new food trends and technologies and – to a degree – price. Yet, they embody strong preferences (arguably more so than millennials) toward the what, where, when, why and how, of produce planning, shopping and eating.

“The silent generation is fascinating, as the factors influencing their produce-selection process are truly representative of life stages and experiences – perhaps to a greater degree than other generations,” said Cara Ammon, principal of Beacon Research Solutions, BTP co-administer. “They were raised to stretch their dollars the furthest, so they want the greatest return on their investments, as it relates to quality and shelf life. They live in smaller households and are averse to waste, therefore leaning toward smaller packages and bulk. And, they want to extend their years, so health and nutrition weigh heavily in their purchasing decisions.”


Indeed, of all generations, silents are most turned off by the top overarching barriers to produce purchasing – price, quality, spoiling, variety not available and package size too large.

When it comes to purchase drivers, silents are most influenced by:

• Quality/appearance (including ripe fruit)

• Health/nutrition

• Locally grown (in contrast, least concerned about natural and organic)

• Bulk/smaller package size

• Better vegetable selection


Silents, unsurprisingly, take a traditional approach to mapping their produce shopping, as they are most likely to use circular ads/store flyers; and least likely to use all other planning resources, especiallyfood/recipe websites, social media, blogs and TV. That said, they also are more inclined than other generations to not plan their produce purchases.

Regardless, once they’re ready to shop, silents are prone to buying fruits and veggies in a supermarket/grocery store, mass merchandiser or discount grocery store.


Silents tend to stick to traditional meal occasions when eating produce, and particularly dinner for vegetables and an evening snack for fruits. Similarly, they are least likely to eat fruits and vegetables as a morning/afternoon snack or for lunch. 

And, don’t expect to find silents in the kitchen longer than necessary, as they are most likely to prepare “heat-and-eat” meals and avoid cooking; though, they prefer to eat at home more frequently than other generations. 

“Again, silents’ life stages and experiences are influencing how they consume fruits and vegetables,” said Adam Brohimer, president of Category Partners, BTP co-administer. “This generation typically grew up preparing and/or sitting down to three meals a day, so now they’re taking full advantage of quicker, less labor-intensive options. Not to mention, convenience items – be it fruits, vegetables, snacks, meals – from the grocery store, typically deliver more bang for your buck vs. eating out.” 


When it comes to produce, the silent generation is seeking a wide, high-quality selection, smaller quantities, convenience and signage indicating local and nutritional aspects. Consider these needs in produce departments but also in convenience and quick-serve areas in grocery stores, as – although time-starved younger shoppers largely are the target – silents could be a receptive audience. 

“The Barriers to Purchase study revealed the staying power of the silent generation, as it has very specific needs when it comes to produce purchasing; but, they’re willing to pay, if these needs are met,” Ammon said. “Silents are incredibly true to their name, in that they’re not necessarily going to broadcast what they want; but, if they are ignored, they will go elsewhere to open their wallets.” 

About Category Partners: a nationally recognized resource, among produce companies and retailers, for delivering actionable business/consumer insights, marketing/sales plans and technology/data solutions. Category Partners is grower/shipper owned and headquartered in Idaho Falls, ID, with offices in Denver, Atlanta and Laguna Hills, CA. 

About Beacon Research Solutions: a leading consumer research and data analysis firm, who works with clients to deliver need-based insights. Beacon’s methods for identifying and evaluating key business insights, include: consumer surveys; focus groups; syndicated research; category reviews; trade research; in-store testing; loyaltycard data analysis and promotion/pricing analysis. 

Source: Category Partners

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