Health, Wellness And Five Foods Boomers Learned Aren’t So Bad After All

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These teas are made with love, man

The exotic aroma of spearmint, hibiscus and chamomile filled the warehouse.

At the wheel of a whirling forklift, the dude with a ZZ Top beard and pony tail hair tucked under his hard hat smiled at the awestruck young city slicker on a get-acquainted tour of the plant: “these teas are made with love, man,” he crooned in that long-lost mellow hippie dialect.

You had to be there, back in the day, to know what real hippies sounded like.

It was 1977, and your humble scribe was on his first trip to Boulder, Colorado, visiting an exciting new client, the Celestial Seasonings tea company.

Red ZingerFounded in 1969 by teenage Boomer Mo Siegel with partners John and Wyck Hay, the tea company to the locals, was already putting Boulder on the map. Mo’s vision inspired other Colorado natural food entrepreneurs and launched the city on its path to being an epicenter of America’s wellness movement.

Eventually, his disruptive little start-up merged with natural food leader Hain, and became the #3 U.S. tea company behind Lipton and Bigelow (hat tip

Nationally, acceptance of health and wellness foods and beverages sky-rocketed over the last 40 years; by 2013, estimates from consultancy Alix Partners, suggest retail sales approached $200 billion. At an annual growth rate of 12% (Nutrition Business Journal via Fidelity Investments) we project a $250 billion market by the end of 2015.

statistic_id235805_us-retail-sales-of-natural-and-organic-food-2000-2017 (2)Within the overall total, the natural and organic food segment has been growing rapidly.

Data tracker Statista projects natural and organic retail sales at $54.9 billion for 2015 – approximately 22% of the health/ wellness total, up from only $12 billion in 2000. By 2017 they project an increase to $61 billion.

Of course, as the health and wellness movement grew, Boomers learned and adapted. Today, Millennials are somewhat more likely to shop for organics, but Boomers are not far behind.

Gallup reports 45% of Americans actively try to include organic foods in their diet … 53% among Millennials, 48% among Gen X and 45% among Boomers. Only those over 65 lag (33%), with price a likely factor for retirees.

UFOs are real“Health foods” have come a long way since    the 1970s.

Back then they were generally regarded as the domain of fringe faddists, off-the-grid communes and eager candidates for “run towards the light” UFO alien abductions.

But along the way, we also earned some “unhealthy” pleasures may actually be good for us. How cool is that?

Five foods Boomers learned aren’t so bad after all

If there is one thing Boomers understand, it’s that change is inevitable – even tasty. Here are five areas where last century thinking has done a yummy 180.

  • Salt: The Washington Post recently published Pass the salt please. It’s good for you, telling us “salt intake that is often deemed high may actually have benefits ...”
  • Chocolate: who wasn’t excited over the newly-discovered benefits of dark chocolate?TIME Magazine fact-checked with medical experts and found its ingredients lower blood pressure and reduce cardiovascular inflammation.
  • Eggs: from the Harvard Medical School to The Mayo Clinic, eggs have been removed from the 1970s danger list as cholesterol boosters.  Amazing Eggs: Busting The Cholesterol Myth clucked the Huffington Post … “eggs are not bad for your health.”
  • Fats: in 2014 The New York Times reported an “exhaustive new analysis … found no evidence that eating saturated fat increased heart attacks and other cardiac events.” Trans fats, sugars and processed white carbohydrates are the more likely villains.
  • Alcohol: the medical community has long known that moderate alcohol consumption is heart-healthy and may reduce the risk of diabetes – but it’s a touchy subject. In the last few years the taboo has been lifted; even The Harvard School of Public Health has published a candid discussion of benefits and risks.

Zorg 2Okay, maybe we should add the obligatory disclaimer: this is not to suggest folks should switch from a balanced diet to one of salt, eggs, chocolate, fats and alcohol.

Anyone that nutty would be a top priority on Zorg’s UFO abduction list, but hey, we need to keep the lawyers happy.

Engaging Boomers is the key to brand wellness

The wellness food and beverage industry is still a minority player in the consumer package goods arena. But it is growing fast within the total $725 billion CPG market is $725 billion (IRi) where the 50+ demographic accounts for well over half of all expenditures (Nielsen).

Ironically, traditional brand thinkers dismiss this massive “older” buyer market as unworthy of specific targeting because, supposedly, consumers are unadaptable after age 50 and exclude them from ad depictions because seeing “old” users gives brands a bad name among the young.

These myths persist because over 90% of ad/PR/marketing professionals are kicked out/drop out of the business by age 50 – brand decision makers communicate among themselves in different socio-cultural languages than those used by their best customers.

Clearly, engaging Boomers is vital to disruptive brands looking to grow, but marketers need to understand our culture and our nuanced dialect first. And Boulder remains the place to hear the voice of the Boomer consumer: “these teas are made with love, man” still resonates.

Opportunity Forklift

Boomer - neXt SM logo_MMOriginally published as a Boomer-Plus Consulting Group post; in September, 2017, we up-branded as Boomer / neXt to welcome the 4 million Gen Xers who join the Boomers in the 50+ space each year.

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