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16 Ways Millennials are #Winning the Food Game (Part 1 of 4)

December 18, 2012
EliseTruman, MS, RD

Welcome back! In yesterday’s post, we defined a Millennial and touched on how the generation is beginning to shape the nutritional habits of our nation…for the better. Today we’re running down the first 4 ways Millennials are #winning the food game.

Let the countdown begin!

16. Thrifty Trivers

We gotta eat to live!  Now, if I can only find some more quarters in the couch cushions. Though Millennials have greater buying power compared to their parents when they were young, according to recent data compiled by the 8095 Insights Group , unemployment in the U.S. for young people still sits over 12%.  Furthermore, our debt averages at almost $30,000. Needless to say, most of us will be passing by that French-imported, aged Boudreaux at the grocery store.

Most market research reports have concluded that Millennials are looking for the best bang for their buck – even when it comes to food. One study showed that Millennials are more price-sensitive than our Baby Boomer predecessors. “Among Millennials earning less than $20,000 per year, price is far and away the most important attribute impacting purchase decisions, with 75% at this income-level citing price as “extremely important.”

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Nutritional Impact: With the less-than-ideal economic state of the U.S., Millennials are finding new options to meet health needs. For instance, with the cost of chicken and beef expected to rise due to the 2012 drought and declining supply, Millennials are seeking alternate, often healthier, protein sources. Beans, legumes, and tofu are three of the traditionally forgone sources that we’re seeing in more Millennial shopping carts. We are also choosing to cook at home for the sake of saving money, meaning we’re more aware of what ingredients are in our meals.

15. Supplement Savvy

A consumer trend report described Millennials (aka Gen Y) as ‘Amped and Gorgeous: Gen Y is nutraceutical and supplement savvy, having been raised by health-conscious Boomer parents.’ Supplements are intended to enhance the nutrient density of the diet. A simple way to define nutrient density is a ratio of micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients) to macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fat). We want this ratio high!

Unfortunately, with factors like changes to soil quality and vitamin/mineral loss in transport and cooking, we don’t always get what we need from food alone. Millennials have caught on to the potential benefits of nutritional supplements. “Since 2009, a Gen Y user has increased the different type of supplements they use in a typical day from 1.8 to 2.8.” said Steve French, managing partner of the Pennsylvania-based Natural Marketing Institute.Pills 2

Nutritional Impact: In today’s high-paced world, it is the exception, rather than the rule, that a Millennial would sit down to a home-cooked meal with freshly picked fruits and vegetables. Even for those who can, there is no guarantee they are receiving all the nutrients they need. Therefore, more and more Millennials understand that prevention via supplementation is the best method when it comes to the onset of nutritional deficiencies that lead to degenerative disease.

Plus, Millennials are doing it the right way. “Gen Y is the most likely to have asked their pharmacist for advice on supplements”, Steve continued.

14. YOLO Attitude

Though research has showed that Millennials are increasingly cost conscious, according to 8095, there are certain products that Millennials are willing to pay premium for, and food and dining topped the list at 73%. The same research suggested that millennials are seeking ‘experiences over stuff” in terms of purchasing decisions and another survey found Millennials are spending more across ethnic/exotic food and beverage categories than the general population.

YOLO is an acronym thought to be coined by the Millennial generation, meaning “you only live once”. More and more Millennials are actually eating by this acronym. And I don’t mean consuming 12 chocolate bars in one sitting because, heck, ‘you only live once.” But Millennials are educated, diverse and seeking new opportunities and experiences when it comes to food and dining. Millennials are seeking to try out new flavor territories and culinary adventures. For instance, last Saturday I visited a tapas BYOB to share plates and vino with my friends and tomorrow I’ll likely eat my lunch standing up at a new food truck I’ve been eyeing for quite some time.

Nutritional Impact: Eating is not meant to be monotonous and bland; it’s about the experience! The more we seek a more thrilling dining experience, the less likely we are to over-consume or become bored with our food. Eat with variety, eat with friends, eat with spice, and you’re eating happily.

13. Convenience Controlled

“It’s going to take you how long to cook my salmon? There has to be an app for that!” In today’s time-crunched society, no one has adopted the “need it now” mentality more so than the Millennials.

Millennials are willing to buy foods from many avenues—online, mobile shopping, delivery, and at pretty much the closet store within walking distance. And when we do buy, we’re doing so for convenience. SymphonyIRI says Millennials are 77% more likely than the general population to buy refrigerated lunches, 22% more likely to buy ready-to-eat cereal and 20% more likely to buy yogurt.

According to a recent report, “Convenience is king with Millennials. They expect to get what they want, when and where they want it, and they know they have options for both products and retailers.  The emphasis on convenience represents a dramatic shift from Baby Boomers’ priorities, and it also presents big challenges – and opportunities – for companies in the food industry”.

Nutritional Impact: Because of this demand, mini-meals and smaller bites are beginning to emerge on the market. In the future, we can expect more frequent eating patterns and a reduction in portion sizes. Some analysts predict that restaurants will offer smaller plates to menus and grocery stores will add more pre-portioned snacks. Smaller portions lead to smaller waistlines.

Check back tomorrow as we continue our countdown!

Sources:

http://www.flavor-online.com/pdfs/foodIQ_2012issue2.pdf

http://www.alixpartners.com/en/MediaCenter/PressReleaseArchive/tabid/821/articleType/ArticleView/articleId/258/Rise-of-the-Millennials-and-Aging-of-the-Boomer-Generation-Will-Mean-Trouble-in-Aisle-5-for-Established-Food-Brands-and-Traditional-Grocery-Stores.aspx

Elise Truman Bio

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