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16 Ways Millennials are #Winning the Food Game (Part 2 of 4)

December 19, 2012

Hello again and thanks for joining [NL] as we continue our countdown of 16 reasons why Millennials are #winning the nutrition game. Monday we talked about the importance of watching how this generation eats and yesterday we gave the first 4 reasons. Millennials are cost conscious, supplement savvy, convenience controlled and eating for a thrill.

Today we’re dishing out reasons 12 through 9. Bon Appetit!

12. Digital Divas

As I write this, I have a secondary laptop open to check my work calendar; my IPhone just updated the latest version of MyFitnessPal and two friends have G-chatted me to see how my week is going. To some, this may seem like too much going on. But to Millennials, multi-tasking technology is like second nature.

One way in which Millennials are different than other food consumers is using technology/media to influence purchasing decisions. For example, SymphonyIRI (an analytical and consulting group) found millennials are 262% more likely than the average shopper to be influenced by smartphone apps, 247% more likely to be influenced by blogs or social networking sites, and 216% more likely to be influenced by in-store touch screen displays.

Laptop work

One article calls Millennials “the first inherently digital generation.’  Millennials just don’t know a world without the internet or smart phones. ‘Millennials are the first generation raised on the internet and the last to remember life ‘unplugged’”. Because of this, Millennials are looking to social media and technology to keep us informed and on track when it comes to nutrition.

Nutritional Impact: Being plugged in has its advantages. Search for the nearest restaurant in the yellow pages? No, no, no. There is an app for that. And that app will tell you the walking distance, provide reviews, show menu selection, and include nutritional facts, to boot! Once a meal is finished, it’s a matter of seconds and a few finger taps to learn how many calories we’ve consumed and how many more miles we need to walk to burn them off. Millennials are leading the way when it comes to utilizing technology to meet our nutritional and health needs.

11. Expert Evangelists

Technology is one way that Millennials are staying ahead of the curve in health in nutrition, but they take it a step further by seeking out the right advice via technology outlets.

Registered dietitians are known as the nation’s ‘nutrition experts’. According to the American Job Center Network, the projected growth for dietitians between 2010 and 2020 is faster than average at 20-28%, and we are just one group of experts being sought out more than ever by Millennials for our nutrition know-how.

Many of these dietitians and doctors are making names for themselves by providing easily accessible nutrition expertise to the general public via blogs and social media. To do so, they are translating their nutrition know-how into Millennial jargon. A perfect example of this is ‘The Gen Y Nutritionist”, Jenny Westerkamp. Jenny is a registered dietitian and author of the recently published, You Are What You Retweet: 140 Social Media Rules to Eat By.

Westerkamp has a language for food and nutrition that is easily understood by Millennials. Jenny tells Nutrition Lately, “In my book, I explain eating real quality food in terms of a tweet. Yes, you have a certain amount of characters (calories) to stay within, but that is not really how you know whether or not a tweet is any good. The quality of the tweet is determined by the content of the tweet. I suggest eating foods that give a lot of bang for their buck, like superfoods or nutrient dense foods that add little calories, but a lot of nutrients.”

“I wrote this book for Gen Y because I want them to understand that eating right should be as easy and intuitive as learning how to use Facebook. My hope is that Gen Y will have a better understanding of nutrition when put in terms they are familiar and comfortable with.”

Nutritional Impact: Millennials have a ‘take charge’ reputation. They have a language we understand and speak it daily. And with social media and blogs creating a direct connection with some of the nation’s leading health and nutrition experts, Millennials are not going to just sit back and watch the twitter feed. They’ll use the limitless resources at their disposal by ‘following’ the dietitian that best speaks to them on twitter, ‘liking’ their favorite health centers on Facebook and subscribing to their favorite doctor’s YouTube video channel. It sounds easy to get the right info because it IS!

10. Ethical Eaters

So, we now know just how well Millennials are connected with what is going on in the world around them. Twitter feeds us and Facebook keeps us up-to-date with the ‘status’ quo. But, it turns out we’re not just well informed about national issues, Millennials actually care. In fact, one study shows that nearly 63% of Millennials volunteered for a non-profit in 2011. Millennials are also the age group most likely to search for greener products, 78% having done so in the recent past. The same study showed us that, “Millennials prefer purchasing from companies whose mission includes sustainability.”

In helping our world, sustainability ranks high on the importance list. “Millennials believe that the content of their food is increasingly important. For example, is it natural and sustainable?”

Millennials, with their naturally inquisitive nature, want to know where and how food is produced. We have a heightened awareness of the potential environmental and health impacts of agriculture. Simply put, those pesticides are not appealing to us if they’re going to hurt our bodies and our communities. Millennials want fresher products with less harmful environmental impacts.

Nutritional Impact: Question: Why did the Millennial cross the road? Answer: To get to the local farmer’s market! Local food movements are popping up nationwide, many are being led by Millennials. Locavores are eaters who survive off foods provided in their region with limited transportation. More Millennials are supporting their own farmers and buying outside of large agri-business networks. What happens when you live in Connecticut and bite into a tomato that did not come from California, but your own backyard? You consume twice the vitamin C and A, and it was no doubt cheaper. Millennials get that.

9. Gone Global  

One of my fondest food memories is taking a bite of a pastry in Paris for the Patisserie. The memory of that strawberry cream dessert can make my mouth water to this day. I also vividly remember jumping off a bus in Athens, Greece and entering a small shop where I had my first juicy, lamb gyro. Four years later, I learned how to pair Italian wine with the pasta I made from scratch in Florence, Italy. Have I had enough? NO! I want to experience all the cuisine this world has to offer my taste buds and research is showing so do other Millennials.

According to one report, “Millennials are much more drawn to unique eateries that offer interesting or globally inspired foods as compared to the predictable go-to restaurants Baby Boomers gravitate toward.”

one earth one egg fragile world

Global foods no longer seem as ‘exotic’ to Millennials. Today, Chinese, Mexican and Italian are just everyday fare. Now, offer a Millennial plate of regionally-inspired Indian dish with a unique and creative flavor profile and you’ve piqued interest and salivated a mouth. In addition, Millennials hold a high regard to authenticity when it comes to eating. That Peruvian meal will hold a higher value in our minds if we feel that it is real, authentic, and ‘homemade’.

Nutritional Impact:  So how does a global taste preference help on a nutritional scale? One example is the popular fast food restaurant, Taco Bell. Taco Bell, who has often received criticism for offering “Americanized” Latin food, recently added the Cantina Bell Menu to meet this Millennial demand. Result: A fresher, healthier option with more variety.  A Cantina Bowl features ‘real Hass avocados” and ‘premium Latin rice” inspired by Venezuelan raised Chef Lorena Garcia.

Well played, Taco Bell. Well played.

Come back again tomorrow as the countdown continues!


Elise Truman Bio

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