Remember when millennials were the talk of the town? Well, nowadays they are the town. Even the youngest individuals from Generation Y are now in high school.
This demographic of more than 80 million people, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates, will soon represent the largest consumer market in American history. That’s more than a quarter of the entire U.S. population!
With the millennial spending groundswell still ramping up, food manufacturers and retailers have already begun reshaping their marketing strategies toward catering to millennials. What do we already know about the ways in which millennials eat and purchase food? How could these characteristics change things like packaging?
Can’t beat eating on the go
The busy millennial lifestyle calls for more meals on the road. An Alphawise study of millennial eating habits found Generation Y frequents restaurants more often than other generations. That said, don’t let millennial factoids around healthy dining lead you astray – whether it’s a casual lunch at a vegan ramen house or bacon double cheeseburgers from the nearest fast food joint, millennials eat out more at all venues across the board.
Food manufacturers and retailers like supermarkets with in-store menus could offer competitive services, so long as they have the mobile packaging options available to let millennials eat wherever their hearts and short attentions spans take them.
Cementing the social experience
What millennial doesn’t have at least a half dozen social media accounts? Generation Y-ers aren’t the only people on sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but they certainly perfected the art of balancing multiple online personalities. Mobile technology like smartphones and tablets give them an even greater edge in this regard. As such, food companies should constantly be considering new ways to incorporate customer interaction by way of mobility and social media.
Merchandisers lacking millennial-level creativity don’t necessarily have to reinvent the wheel. For example, if a company’s traditional packaging includes redeemable coupons, consider replacing the literature for a QR code accessible via the web. Businesses save money on printing costs and engage younger audiences by encouraging them to participate electronically. Furthermore, image-driven content created through apps like Instagram, Pinterest and Vine give food companies an opportunity to showcase their product’s beauty with free viral marketing. Never underestimate the power of the hashtag.
Impressing packaging perusers
More than any generation previous, millennials are concerned with food transparency. By an overwhelming margin, millennials are more apt to ask where the ingredients in their foods come from, how the ingredients were maintained by suppliers and how their menu options impact the environment.
According to a Mintel survey, millennials who turn to packaging for their answers may be turned off by what they find. Almost half of all millennials find food labels confusing, and nearly 6 in 10 simply don’t trust some claims manufacturers or produce suppliers purport.
Commercial packaging, therefore, has to step up its game and convince Generation Y the contents are both honest and worth investing in. This could include clearer nutritional and ingredient information printed right on the box or even referring prospective buyers to online resources like videos and testimonials that back up marketing claims.