I recently read an article in the Washington Post that listed nine ways Millennials are changing the way we eat. As tired as we all might be hearing about Millennials-this and Millennials-that, the truth of the matter is that they are a significant demographic that A) can’t be ignored, and B) aren’t going away anytime soon. They are a demographic that is 75 million strong, and make up about a quarter of the population in the United States. That said, I read with interest about these nine ways this generation is affecting our food and thought about how some of these changes are affecting those of you out there who supply the Millennials—and all other generations—with tasty foodstuffs. Here’s what I came up with:

What Millennials want: The Truth.

What this means for suppliers: Be transparent about every single thing you do. This isn’t just about the labels on your product, or where you source your ingredients. It is also about being aware of the persona you’re exhibiting to CPG. The Internet is at our fingertips, and faster than you can imagine consumers can find all sorts of information on your company. If those consumers feel like you’re trying to hide who you are, don’t act surprised when they hide their wallets from your products.

What Millennials want: Ease

What this means for suppliers: A report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that Millennials are more likely to eat at restaurants than at home, and in any given month, 2.3 percent of their meals are restaurant meals. For suppliers, this means your products have to be easier to get and eat than having someone bring it to your table, or clicking a few tabs on a mobile phone and breezing through a takeout line 10 minutes later. It means thinking about how convenient your product is. Is it really? How can you simplify your product? Is it your packaging? Your availability? The instructions for use? If there are barriers to use your product that can be eliminated, do it. Get rid of them. Products that take up too much time aren’t going to resonate with consumers who desperately want more of it. But if you can rightfully state that your product gives people back even a few of those precious minutes, that can add up to big value in a consumer’s eyes.

What Millennials want: To redefine healthy

What this means for suppliers: That same USDA report shows that Millennial households are big into the fruits and veggies, and anything that they can understand the ingredient list. Translation? Fresh, organic, and non-processed. So if you’ve been considering going after specific certifications for your products, now is the time to do it. Anything that touts a health benefit or health alternative will catch the eye of the healthy, discerning Millennial consumer.

What Millennials want: Snacks. (Honestly, are there generations of people out there who DON’T want snacks?)

What this means for suppliers: Millennials snack as many as four times a day, notes a 2018 Progressive Grocer article, and they’re looking beyond the traditional packaged snack aisle. Instead, they’re looking for snacks from fresh produce, prepared foods, the dairy case, even canned poultry and fish. They want protein, probiotics, natural fiber, and omega-3s, the article says. What’s more, Millennials consider just about anything that is simply a smaller amount of a food they would normally eat at a meal time a “snack.”

For suppliers, to feed this snacking trend, look at your flavors and your ingredients—are they what Millennial consumers are asking for?  And beyond that, look at the snack itself: Is there a way to break your product down into a snackable portion? To package it with complementary components that would make for a healthy, satisfying nibble in between meals? Think outside the box (or bag…or canister…or wrapping) or even simply educate your consumers on how to make your product a great snacking part of their day. Sometimes consumers young and old need a little push to see things in a new light. 

Be that push.

What Millennials want: To try just about anything.

What this means for suppliers: If you’ve got a product that’s just a little bit off the wall, Millennials should be the first line of consumer you target. Maybe it’s an inherent FOMO, but they’re willing to try anything once. And if your product is good, and your brand marketing is authentic, you’ll appeal to a Millennials’ adventurous side and gain a repeat customer.

This sprawling generation can be a demanding consumer, but they can also be loyal to brands that prove they are what they say they are, and provide products that meet their specific needs. They’re not a generation to be taken for granted, and thinking outside the box and looking at what they really want will help shape your products for success.

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