Are you keeping up with the millennials?

We can’t live without it, but we can (and are) dictating how we live with it. Food is the ultimate goal for all species – according to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Yet, we are constantly looking for new ways to make it, shop for it and consume it. 

For one of life’s staples, we are having a good go at changing and adapting every element of it to suit today’s lifestyles (which, incidentally, may be different to tomorrow’s).

Our desire as humans is to feel nutritionally satisfied, aka have a full stomach. It’s integral to our culture, forms part of our relationships, creates a happy social life and, most importantly, structures our day. The problem is, we’ve created too many choices for ourselves. We’ve over-complicated the basic need to eat and we inadvertently compete with ourselves to do it better.

Gone are the days of a big shop, on the same day at the same time, every week. Grabbing the old favourite cookbook from the top shelf to make somebody’s Granny’s best Yorkshire Pudding is a thing of the past. Even 6-course dinner parties, scheduled months in advance, are a rarity on the calendar. And that’s because it all requires too much planning; it doesn’t fit with today’s lifestyle of convenience.

And this is down to the growing demand from millennials.

They are looking to make choices as they go, take fewer trips to the supermarket, eat healthier and fresher food and be inspired by what’s available to them. They’re a generation that eats for pleasure and not to simply stay alive. It’s now about so much more than an endless routine of sitting at the dinner table three times a day.

And the impact is far-reaching. Manufacturers are having to change their processes and carefully select their ingredients. Retailers are having to make smarter buying decisions, be conscious about their pricing and re-think their routes to market. Marketers have to be involved at an earlier stage – it’s as much about innovation as it is advertising; what’s presented to market needs to inspire and not simply fulfil a need.

And the role for consumers is to lead the way.

They have lifestyles to maintain and the demand is that food is adapted to suit. Health and fitness has never been so high on the agenda. And people have never been so educated on where food has come from, what the ingredients are and the effects they have on your body (at different times of day and depending on whether you have exercised or not!) 

People have a vested interest in what they are eating and are easily influenced by current trends, habits or diets. Which means they could also be very fickle in their preferences.

Big brands are wise to this and have learnt the value of robust research. According to Mars, there’s little to be said for innovating for the sake of it, but there’s a lot to be said for innovating when there’s a genuine desire. And they’re not the only heritage brand to be faced with the dilemma of – having done something well for years – needing to move into new market spaces to broaden demand and keep interest high. 

Last week they launched Maltesers Truffles (but that’s not a Malteser I hear you say). A clever take on the classic crunchy ball, and their attempt to move the brand into a more premium sector. This is in response to the rise in their consumers looking for a younger, more informal way to gift. They spotted an opportunity and the gap has been filled. 

Doing what you’ve always done is no longer an acceptable status quo in the world of food, or any world for that matter. Neither is changing what already works – because that would be foolish. Instead, brands need to look for innovative ways to fill new gaps and keep the attention of these millennials. 

Do regular research to make sure you’re aware of your customers’ demands as much as they are. Look at the current trends, identify how they might affect your proposition and explore ways that you can tweak your offer to suit what’s fashionable. You need to be prepared to refine and adapt all of the time – people expect their expectations to be met… especially if you’ve asked their opinion.

And perhaps most importantly, make your brand more accessible. So accessible in fact that you deliver it to their door. 

If you’d like any expert advice on moving your brand with the times, or even just some innovative marketing ideas, then give us a call, we’re always open to a chat.