Pew Research projects that by the end of 2015, Millennials will outnumber Baby Boomers — thanks to higher death rates in the Boomer population and high immigration rates in the Millennial population. That will make Millennials the nation’s largest living generation, which also means they’re one of the most important customer demographics for industries like food and beverage.
However, like every other generation, Millennials have their own set of preferences when it comes to what they purchase. The businesses that listen to these preferences will fare better with tapping into this large market. Check out some of the key Millennial food and beverage preferences below and discover how you can attract the millennial mind.
Millennials grew up with the Internet, which means that as technology has evolved throughout their lifetime, they’ve become accustom to a fast-paced society. Convenience is important to them, whether that means they’re looking for a grocery store close to home or they’re more willing to eat out than cook in their own kitchens. In fact, the Millennial population eats out more than others, with 53 percent citing that they eat out at least once a week, compared to 43 percent for the general population, says Business Insider.
Because of this, Millennials are more willing to ditch the traditional grocery store in favor of other options, including eating out and even ordering their food online.
As globalization of industry has spread throughout the last few decades, Millennials have grown up in a world where products are fairly cheap — since they’re less expensive to make, thanks to the low cost of outsourcing and the technologies that speed up productivity. Because of this, Millennials expect low prices. That’s not to mention that Millennials are a frugal generation, which means they’re likely to compare prices and choose the product with the best deal.
While convenience and low prices are a priority for Millennials, that doesn’t mean that fast food and TV dinners are the bulk of their diet. As Forbes points out, Millennials are more willing to go out of their way for top products (i.e. craft beer), and a vast majority of them are interested in quality foods like organic fruits and vegetables.
While they’re interested in low prices, they are willing to spend more on foods that are healthier for them and taste better. This is true even for low-income Millennials. In fact, it’s suggested that lower-income shoppers are doing more for the sustainability market — and 50 percent are willing to pay premium prices for green products — according to SustainableBrands.com.
Millennials are not ignorant to what’s put in their food. Many Millennials will seek out products that they’re more familiar with ingredient-wise so that they’re informed with what they’re putting in their bodies – that doesn’t necessarily mean they are brand loyal.
Millennials are more likely to stray away from highly-processed foods in favor of those that carry
ingredients they’re familiar with. They’re interested in honest brands that don’t sacrifice the customer’s health for a longer shelf life.
A huge percentage of Millennials (81 percent) “expect companies to make a public commitment to corporate citizenship,” says Forbes. Millennials are a surprisingly environmentally-conscious generation. They’re more likely to grow their own food, make their own cleaning products, and install eco-friendly energy solutions than the majority of the population.
Because of their environmentally-conscious ideals and their commitment to social improvement, they’re looking to support the brands that make these principles a priority as well. Make it known that your company uses sustainable practices in manufacturing and transportation, or let customers know if you’ll be donating a portion of the proceeds to a social cause — though advertise it humbly and truthfully — and you’ll have a better chance of attracting this audience to your brand.
Among one of the more important aspects of environmentally-friendly foods, Millennials want their food packaging to be sustainable as well. Not only is it good for the environment, but sustainable packaging is a smart marketing move for brands.
It’s simple psychology. The packaging is something customers can easily see on the shelves, and it becomes more personal when they are the ones throwing away the packaging. That makes purchasing sustainable packaging an emotional decision, so it should be a top priority for food manufacturers and suppliers who want to show that their business really is environmentally friendly.
This includes packaging that is made out of recyclable material, is easily recycled on its own, and is even biodegradable. Foods packaged in plastic or foam are less sustainable, and therefore less attractive to millennials.
For optimum sustainability, you might even opt for no packaging if it’s a realistic solution for your product. For instance, a German store has customers bring in their own reusable packaging. They weigh the container before customers shop, and then customers pay for the weight of their groceries.
The Bottom Line
While these preferences may not be true for every Millennial, you will find the majority of this generation leaning toward these options. You’ll also notice that Millennials are less brand loyal than previous generations, and they will engage in non-traditional purchase models to get what they want — such as by shopping at specialty stores. They want to pay as little as possible for their food, but they’re also willing to pay more for specialty products such as ethic and organic foods while ensuring their food is both healthy and tasty.
As the younger end of the Millennial generation graduates college and emerges into the workforce, more Millennials will have the money to shop for high-quality, green products. Essentially, the demand for the practices outlined above will be on the rise quickly. That’s not to mention that older Millennials are in the stage of having children, and they will teach their children these values as well – meaning the food and beverage industry will be unable to ignore these demands in coming years.
To stay ahead of your competition in the food and beverage industry, it’s important to adopt a supply chain model that can sustain highly-efficient and environmentally-sound production.
What’s your next millennial-focused move going to be?
Author Bio: Dr. Keith Peterson, Ph.D. serves as President and Chief Executive Officer at Halo Business Intelligence, Inc. Dr. Peterson is a senior executive with expertise building data analytics organizations with strong financial and strategic value. In particular, these approaches have focused on predictive and geospatial analytics. His experience includes P&L management of global and U.S. businesses. Prior to Halo, he was head of Mitchell ClaimsLab, held senior executive positions at Nielsen and several midsize analytics firms, co-founded and exited a digital marketing business, and was a research associate at a health care policy institute in Menlo Park, CA. Dr. Peterson has a doctoral degree from Vanderbilt University in applied social psychology with a focus on quantitative methods and a bachelor of science degree from Washington State University.