Millennials are aging, what’s driving their snack purchase decisions now?

Photo: monkeybusinessimages/iStock

When data on marketing food and beverages to Millennials first came out, they tended to portray this age group as adventurous (and broke) twenty-somethings. But members of this generation have aged, and their purchasing drivers have changed, according to one generational expert.

In fact, “Millennials are  now the largest generation in the US workforce,” said Jason Dorsey, president of the Center for Generational Kinetics, during a webinar hosted by Amplify Snack Brands (parent company of Skinny Pop).

The generational name ‘Millennial’ was coined in the early 1990s but first came into mainstream vernacular around 2013 (according to Google Trends), when the youngest of them were still in high school. Four years later, many of the youngest Millennials—those born in 1995—have graduated college. At the other half of the spectrum, many of the older Millennials have become or are becoming parents, another big shift that would affect their purchasing decisions.

Dorsey offered several tips on how companies can market to today’s Millennials, adding that generational tendencies shouldn’t be seen as boxing people, but rather “as clues to faster connect with and influence Millennials,” he added. (You can find the full report HERE)

Younger, hipper brands finding a great place in the market

The Baby Boomers built the strongest legacy snack brands here in the US, “but a lot of those legacy brands are struggling, so we’re seeing these newer, hipper, more on-trend brands really being able to find a great place in the market,” Dorsey said.

That means what may have been suspected as fads (think ‘free-from’ or ‘better-for-you’) may actually be the new norm, and legacy brands should start taking a hint—decades long tried-and-true branding or positioning strategies may have to be changed.

“Our spending power just keeps going up,” Dorsey, who is a member of the Millennial generation, added. “We will outspend every other generation this year. So it’s important as you’re thinking about it as an executive or marketer.”

The ‘healthy must not taste good’ stereotype didn’t stick with many Millennials

A common joke of healthy food is that it doesn’t taste as good as indulgent food, but survey results by the Center for Generational Kinetics suggest that this equation didn’t stick with Millennials. “They did not want to sacrifice taste,” Dorsey said about Millennials.

“They believe better-for-you snacks should taste good, because there was a time when there was a trade-off: If it’s healthy then it tasted bad,” he added.

Out of the 1,631 US adults ages 18-65 surveyed online, 78% of the Millennial respondents said that better-for-you snacks tend to taste the same or better than traditional packaged snacks.

How is ‘better-for-you’ defined here? According to the center’s report, respondents said it meant fewer ingredients, and understanding what the ingredients written on the package do.

Trans fats, added sugar, and artificial sweeteners are considered the least tolerated better-for-you snack ingredients by Millennials,” the report said.

Additionally, more than any generation, Millennials want to see organic, responsibly sourced, omega-3s, and environmentally friendly packaging promoted on pack when choosing snacks.

(You can find the full report HERE)

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