Millennials are the most significant age demographic in the U.S. at present. As they develop more buying power, they’re influencing what’s offered in grocery stores and restaurants all over the country.
When businesses want to appeal to the masses, they need to make sure they’re doing what they can to keep their millennial customers happy. They need to prepare for millennial attitudes and behaviors in the way they research, buy and eat their food.
What millennials expect
The millennial desire for bold and confident individualism extends to their food choices. They expect far more than just sustenance.
Millennials want to interact with brands that are transparent and think about more than just their bottom line. Brands that don’t align with their values are speedily replaced by those that do.
They are interested in understanding the food story behind a product. They want to know what ingredients are used, how they are sourced and how food is made. Is the food organic? Is it locally sourced? Is it sustainable? For this level of transparency, they’re prepared to pay more.
Millenials want personalized eating experiences. This goes way beyond choosing between “wheat, white or rye bread.” Food isn’t just about what they eat, but it becomes an extension of their personality.
They want to design meals that suit their preferences and compliment their lifestyle. If they’re paying for a meal, they want control of what goes into it, whether it’s a burger, sandwich or a bowl.
More than a third will order something different every time they visit a restaurant. Picky eaters want to be able to choose their favorite ingredients, and more adventurous ones wish to select favorites and mix in some new ingredients to try.
Millennials are open-minded and curious about new flavors and ethnic cuisine, especially if it’s healthy. They don’t shy away from vegetarian or vegan options. The idea of mixing and mashing different dishes and cuisines to create something new appeals to them.
This is a top driver for millenials when buying food. It has given rise to many new buying options with technologies like mobile ordering and delivery apps making eating more convenient. Organic fast food may sound like a different concept, but millennials are driving this trend.
Older people are more likely to check labels for information about fat or calories. Millenials want to know whether food is natural, organic and locally sourced. They prefer whole grains over processed foods.
Millennials want to know how what they eat affects their consumption footprint. They are aware of environmental issues and care about the planet.
Rather than eating three meals a day, millennials are more likely to snack throughout the day. They expect their snacks to be portable, flavorful and healthy.
Ways brands can meet these needs
The brands that win with modern consumers can combine digital innovation with high quality, excellent service, and authenticity.
Leveraging social media
Manufacturers must capitalize on experiential currency and the way millennials love to share posts about restaurants they’ve visited and meals they’ve eaten on social media. They like to find the one thing that others haven’t discovered yet.
One person posting a photo of a delicious new green smoothie can reach thousands of people in one day.
Coca-Cola is one brand that leverages social media effectively. It emphasizes sharing in its advertising campaigns – sharing with family, friends and even strangers. It capitalizes on the whole idea of drinking coke as part of a fun-loving, inclusive lifestyle.
Socially-savvy eateries focus on the items they create and the plating. Food is designed with an Instagram-worthy experience in mind. Some will even have a particular Instagram table for taking shots with adjustable overhead lighting to eliminate shadows.
Innovation is necessary for brands who want to maintain momentum in the food space. The desire of current consumers for newness and variety has led many brands to use bolder flavors, colors, unique packaging and more.
They want to make their millennial customers excited about their products and give them something new to create a buzz about on social media.
New business concepts
A new type of business fuelled by millenials is sending nutritious, fresh ingredients and recipes to customers for weekly meals. These meal kits enable customers to quickly turn out a nutritious, healthy meal without having to spend too much time or think about what to cook.
Build and cook your own meal restaurant experiences
What better way to entice millennials to a restaurant than to offer them the option of building their meals? Bowls can be assembled from a variety of healthy ingredients and allow room for creative expression.
Breakfast and lunch bowls are already popular, and dessert bowls will probably follow.
One of the latest ways to enjoy a cook-it-yourself Asian eating experience is to choose your ingredients and dip them into broths infused with spices. This provides an interactive, communal way to dine.
New health foods
Restaurants are also offering interesting new foods with health benefits. One of these is fungi with healing properties. Lion’s mane, chaga and reishi mushrooms are added to food for their umami flavors and their healing properties.
Another is fermented foods, such as kombucha. Vegetarian and vegan options abound as plant-based diets that have become more popular.
The fascination for cuisine from other cultures has led companies to explore global flavors. Consumers are more interested in ethnic food when it comes with a flavorful story.
A more extensive selection of quality international foods helps retailers to compete and attract more customers.
Creative collaborations and mash-ups
You’re likely to see many more mash-ups driven by chefs and innovative collaborations in the year ahead – think temporary restaurants, limited-edition items, unique pop-ups and more.
Gaining insights into what your customers want gives you the opportunity to provide it for them. Be committed to putting your millennial customers and their experiences first, staying on top of what’s trending and using social media effectively to make your brand stand out.