American culture is experiencing 4 seismic changes that are terrifying consumer companies

In 2015, the American family means something completely different than in previous generations.

For brands, this means making some major changes.

Campbell Soup Company CEO Denise Morrison revealed in a Fortune article there are four major shifts that fuel her biggest fear as a business leader: that she can’t keep up with the pace of change.

These four accelerating seismic shifts profoundly impact how consumers engage with food, according to Morrison.

Here are the four major changes, and how some of the biggest players are attempting to keep up with a rapidly shifting society.

1. A new American family

In January, Campbell’s Consumer and Customer Insights Department released some research on what it called the “new American family.”

Some revelations about this new family: the majority of households are adult-only, the average family size is shrinking, and traditional gender roles are on the decline.

In October, Campbell launched an advertising campaign called “Made for Real, Real Life,” showcasing non-idealised meals consumed by “families of different configurations, culture, faces and life choices,” including same-sex parents and a childless couple glued to their smartphones.

The definition of “All-American” has to change in marketing and products.

2. Growing health awareness

A new awareness of nutrition and desire for transparency has impacted food companies across the industry in 2015, as Taco Bell promised to cut artificial flavoring, Chipotle went GMO-free, and McDonald’s and Starbucks changed its Pumpkin Spice Latte recipe to contain actual pumpkin.

With greater access to dietary and health information, customers care about having healthy options.

3. An evolving digital landscape

In prior decades, companies could communicate with customers through a limited number of networks: print ads, televisions commercials, face-to-face contact.

Now, each company has a seemingly endless list of social networks to choose from. Few brands would forsake Facebook or Twitter, and more and more companies are turning to newer social media networks.

Taco Bell, for example, now reveals new menu offerings on Snapchat and Periscope. With new ways to connect with customers, it is essential that brands stay plugged into the swiftly changing digital world.

4. A new global economic reality

Companies need to come to term with the fact that the middle class is shrinking in developed markets like the US.

This puts consumer giants like McDonald’s and Walmart in a tough spot because they have to appeal to consumers seeking pricey organic food and those who want the Dollar Menu.

McDonald’s has adapted by offering some high-end items, like its buttermilk chicken sandwich and “create your taste” gourmet burgers. It has also ramped on promotions on its classic burgers, fries, and McNuggets.

Walmart is opening Neighbourhood Markets, Whole Foods-esque purveyors of organic food, while also stocking its Supercenters with dollar store staples such as single rolls of toilet paper.

NOW WATCH: These are the healthiest fast food menu items in America

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