BY GAIL BARNES
Millennials now outnumber baby boomers and are the largest generational group in history. On average, millennials spend approximately $600bn annually, and according to a prediction by a major packaging company, this spend is expected to rise to $1.4 trillion in the next six years.
According to the Mayo Clinic, 35% of meals eaten by millennials are really snacks. In order to encourage “grazing behaviour”, food companies have focused on making food more portable through promoting cereal as snack food, deconstructing sandwiches into faster food with smaller pieces that can be popped into the mouth while on the run, and combining foods traditionally served at breakfast, lunch and dinner to facilitate dashboard and desktop dining.
Quoted in a recent industry publication, consumer behaviouralist Ken Hughes says the millennial generation, aged between 15 and 35, does not want carbon copy brands, rather bespoke retail experiences and a story to go with each handcrafted product. He also says the food industry is about five or six years behind this curve, but predicts that just as the hotel industry adapted following the success of Airbnb, and the transport industry adapted to Uber, so the food industry will too.
Speaking at the Milan Expo, Hughes gave some examples: “There is now an app called The Happy Fork that monitors every mouthful and whether you are eating too quickly. People today are looking for shared experiences not mass consumerism.”
Based on a “what should a food or beverage company absolutely have to do approach,” below are five recommendations for marketing food and beverages to millennials:
Brands that make adventurous food more accessible – such as Hemisfares – could do well from millennials.
Adventurous foods and beverages
New research has found that millennials are more adventurous with food than their parents ever were. 35% of millennials experiment with new food regularly, compared to less than 13% of their parents’ generation. Kroger’s new Hemisfares brand targeted at food curious consumers is likely to find appeal among food adventurous millennials.
Make it fun
Some of the most popular ad campaigns with millennials have almost nothing to do with the product itself, they are about fun, whimsy and, most importantly, entertainment.
According to an industry publication, millennials are the largest generational group of socially-aware consumers globally, and are using their power to drive social and environmental change across economic sectors by demanding accountability from major corporations and big brand names. Companies are expected to be environmentally responsible, e.g. in terms of carbon footprint, recycling, post-recyclable use and composting as a solution for flexible packaging.
Telling stories as opposed to traditional marketing
Millennials don’t want to be advertised to, they want to be advertised with. Innocent Drinks’ 2015 campaign featuring an Indian mango farmer to highlight the provenance of its fruit juice is a good example of storytelling in action.
Have a presence on social media
Sharing food with others is in. While a social media presence may seem obvious, and there is increasing evidence that technology is changing the way we eat, there are major food and beverage companies and retailers that do not yet have social media accounts. 72% of British and American millennials are likely to share pictures of their food and drink if it is different or unique, compared with just 22% of boomers. They can be a company’s biggest advocates.
Millennials are the taste makers when it comes to food and beverages. There is a trickle up effect with food and beverage trends tending to trickle up the generational ladder. In other words, what millennials want in food today is what we will all soon be asking for!
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2020