Over a third of millennials (people aged 18–29) think it is more important to be knowledgeable about food than fashion, according to figures from creative firm Haygarth and research specialist Flamingo.
And, on average, almost as many food experts are followed on social media than celebrities, it said.
However, the food industry wasn’t targeting the sector properly and instead considered it “unimportant”, despite millennials making up almost 20% of the UK’s population, according to Haygarth ceo Sophie Daranyi.
“When we considered the marketing activity in FMCG [fast-moving consumer goods] and grocery retail, they [millennials] weren’t regarded as a significant target audience by the majority of brands,” she said.
“Research has provided a fascinating insight into this under-considered audience and has enabled us to put together the golden rules for retailers and brands to engage with this foodie generation.”
Firms targeting the sector should note that millennials did one big weekly shop; supported high street retailers; shopped at independent food stores; and visited butchers, grocers and bakers three times more than their parents did, the research showed.
And, despite reports of traditional ‘bricks and mortar’ supermarkets being less favourable among most other consumers, millennials had shown interest in them, Daranyi claimed.
“Such stores have the potential for a bright future as millennials begin running households, parenting the next generation and shaping the future of grocery retail,” she said.
‘Inspiration is the key’
“Inspiration is the key to unlocking this potential – a massive 88% [of those asked] find supermarkets uninspiring, leaving significant room for improvement.”
In order to attract future customers, the major multiples had to learn from independent food and drink retailers as well as leading fashion brands, which had managed to inspire millennials, Daranyi added.
Meanwhile, functional food manufacturers were given five top tips for millennial engagement by Jeff Hilton, partner and chief marketing officer at US-based brand promotion company Brandhive, last year.
“The interesting thing about millennials is that they don’t think about marketing in the same way as the baby boomers do and are much more open to new things,” he told FoodManufacture.co.uk.
Brandhive's top five tips to engage millennials
- They want things on their terms
- They aren’t “proactive” thinkers, so inspire them
- They are open to words like ‘natural’, but not words like ‘nostalgic’ on packaging
- Words like ‘energy’, ‘performance’ and ‘fulfilment’ fit their core needs
- They are the generation that’s the most open to new things, so use it to your advantage