Two reports I have read recently seem to concur that food companies will be looking for new ways to tap into what is known as the ‘Millennial’ market in the next few years. If you’re not already familiar with this categorisation, Millennials are people born between 1982 and 1998, although these dates do vary slightly depending on where you find the information.
Who are Millennials?
What makes this sector of the population different is the fact that many of them were introduced to a much wider variety of tastes, textures and flavours in food than any generation before them. They’ve also been subject to a wealth of information via the internet etc. about food, health, packaging and environmental concerns. These factors have played a major role in the way they purchase and eat food.
For instance, whereas their parents might eat three square meals a day, at set times, cooked by the mother of the household; Millennials are much more likely to eat four smaller snacks or meals per day at unconventional times. Interestingly as many men as women of this generation enjoy cooking.
They’re also far more adventurous and spontaneous when it comes to food – some have even termed them ‘thrill-seekers’. They enjoy extreme textures and intense flavours and like experimenting when preparing and cooking food at home. For this very reason they’re fans of ‘build-it- yourself ‘ foods, where you cook from scratch and can customise dishes with add-on and mix-in products.
A desire for more information about food
Not only do Millennials enjoy food, they’re also very interested in its origins – what’s in it? How is it made and produced? According to reports they’re likely to scan barcodes to find out more or watch online videos – and natural/organic products and unprocessed food is much more likely to feature in their diets, even if it is a little more expensive.
To satisfy consumers’ desire for more information about food, there are a growing number of mobile apps available, such as Prep Pad which will give nutritional information about food from a bar code. But it’s not just about nutritional panels in pre-packaged food. People are also wanting to know more about food sold loose and in restaurants and other outlets.
As socially-responsible adults, the type of packaging is another significant factor in their decision to purchase. The more eco-friendly it is, the more likely they are to be drawn towards the product.
How to cater for Millennials
From a food manufacturer and retailer’s point of view, they are more likely to attract this market by offering a greater choice of fresh foods and ingredients for cooking from scratch. They can fuel Millennials’ desire for the different and extreme by using recipe suggestions to help elevate everyday foods and encourage and inform purchases; and by using minimal recyclable packaging they will meet their customers’ eco-friendly requirements.
The rise of the craft food industry and 24/7 food delivery
New ethnic and artisan foods also feature strongly on Millennial plates. It’s therefore likely that, in the same way that the micro brewery industry has really taken off in recent years, food will go the same way. USA Supermarket Guru, Phil Lempert, predicts that ‘Craft Foods’ will be big business in 2015/16 i.e. tasty flavoursome foods made in small batches using quality ingredients. He believes that this type of food manufacture will be replicated on a larger scale with established food manufacturers operating sub-brands.
Mr Lempert also predicts 24/7 food delivery and the diversification of supermarkets to become much more than vendors of food and drinks. In line with consumers’ desire for more information he envisages chef demonstrations and high-end on-site restaurants, cookery classes and more. It will be interesting to see if this takes off in the UK.