These millennial food brands are grabbing the market’s attention with…snacks?
The media portrays millennials as being obsessed with a lot of things: selfies, same-day delivery services, and that soft shade of pink known as “millennial” pink. But this generation’s obsessiveness with snacks is flipping this sector of the food industry on its head.
The generation, comprised of people aged 22 to 40, is more likely than any other generation to snack—and snack a lot. Surveyed millennials shared that they snacked four times a day and, in many cases, more than that.
Now, millennials aren’t the only age group driving this trend: a large majority of Americans snack at least once a day. But how millennials are snacking, and what they are snacking on, is driving growth in very specific niches of the food industry.
Millennials are known as the “grab-and-go” generation, manifesting in a variety of ways with consumers.
“Eggs, a food that traditionally would have been consumed as a sit-down meal, became a snack hard-boiled and sold in a plastic pot […],“ said Sally Lyons Wyatt, Executive Vice President and Practice Leader for the consultancy IRI. “Other examples might include cereal, usually eaten in a bowl with milk at breakfast time now being eaten dry as snack, or ingredients such as chocolate chips produced for baking, being eaten as they are.”
When asked to rank important factors of snacks, portability ranked high with 54 percent of millennials surveyed. Taste, ability to satisfy hunger, quality ingredients, and health ranked even higher, above portability.
Millennial food brands have recognized these trends, and are making huge moves to capitalize on them.
In the face of anticipated falling sales, Campbell Soup Company acquired Snyder’s-Lance. This $5 billion acquisition amplifies the reality of people moving away from canned soups in favor of fresher products.
Hershey Company announced a similar acquisition of a snacking brand the same week. Its $1.6 billion purchase of Amplify Snack Brands—makers of SkinnyPop and Tyrells Chips—is the company’s biggest ever acquisition. Amplify has aspired to bring “transparency” to its products with clean ingredients, addressing the wants and needs of the millennial consumer since 2014.
The moves of major, longstanding food brands toward healthy, easy-to-consume snacking divisions proves that this isn’t just a drop-in-the-bucket trend. It also proves that while old-school brands may not have the capacity to develop new products fast enough to keep up with trends, acquisitions will be key for millennial food brands to survive this shift, due to their legacy system.
Consolidation is happening everywhere at the moment, and the snacking industry is no exception. Healthy, transparent, and grab-and-go are the three key ingredients of successful snack brands that appeal to Millennials. Here are the millennial food brands that got it right.
Skinnypop is still just popcorn, but it wasn’t marketed as such. The brand positioned itself as a healthy snack, and consumers believe it.
Their bite sized candy bars have been hugely popular. Not only do smaller sizes pack a lot less sugar than the originals, but many are uncomfortable with eating full-sized candy bars. Bite size options provide a win-win for everyone.
Chef’s Cut Real Jerky & EPIC
Better-for-you beef jerky brands provide anyone with the craving a healthy option. And its clearly paying off; General Mills recently acquired Epic.
The crisps, made out of parmesan cheese, are currently #1 in the 100 percent cheese snack category. While they can’t boast to being dairy-free, Americans aren’t afraid of fat or sodium. It’s a war on sugar in America’s food industry, so the protein category is crushing.
These pretzels are the salty carb, and it’s totally irresistible, even to millennials. Pretzels don’t always have the healthiest rep, but Snyder’s gave theirs some “natural” qualities, which helps people feel less guilty. A lot of what these companies do, and what their success rides on, is how much guilt they can mitigate…
RX Bars have completely embraced a transparent approach. With only real ingredients, listed on the packaging, RX Bars decided to fill the need for a healthier alternative to protein bars. And their streamlined packaging definitely appeals to millennials.
Few of these brands are in the same food group, or even category; longtime favorite candy bars can excel at branding just as well as the newest protein bars. But all of these millennial food brands have found a way to appeal to their market in a changing food landscape. There’s no prediction that technology will have any less of an impact on our lives, so it’s likely that food options will continue to go “mobile” as well.
Ian Wishingrad is an award-winning creative director and millennial trend expert specializing in branding, advertising, social media, and digital development. He is the founder and creative director of BigEyedWish, whose clients include telecom giant AT&T, Diageo, Nestlé, Macy’s, FuboTV, Terra Origin, and many other businesses and brands. In 2015 he launched Nobituary.com, an anti-smoking web-app, with Oscar-winner and “The View,” co-host Whoopi Goldberg.