Millennials More Critical Of Major Food Manufacturers

Millennials are more than twice as likely as other demographic groups to distrust large food manufacturers, according to a report from Mintel.

More than two in five U.S. Millennials (43%) agree they do not trust large food manufacturers, compared to just 18% of non-Millennials. Similarly, 74% of Millennials wish that food companies were more transparent about how they manufacture their products (vs 69% of non-Millennials).

In line with these attitudes, Millennials, defined by Mintel as adults age 21-38, are more likely to agree that the retailer (38%) and brand (37%) are important food purchase factors than non-Millennials (27% and 25% respectively), who are defined as adults ages 18-20 and 39 and older.

Millennials are different than previous generations and are taking a proactive approach with their health, says Amanda Topper, Mintel food analyst. This impacts their food shopping behaviors, product preferences and the brands they support.

Millennials want brands to form a genuine, authentic connection with them, and brands should recognize the impact Millennials have on their businesses, she says.

“Millennials cite high-quality ingredients as the most influential factor when shopping for retail food,” Topper tells Marketing Daily. “Promoting natural ingredients is a step in the right direction in gaining Millennials’ trust of large food manufacturers. Greater transparency in product labeling and marketing strategies is important in building that trust.”

Millennials want companies to connect with them in an authentic and unforced manner, she adds.

“Millennials are more likely to agree that some food companies try too hard to be genuine, so it is important to find a way to connect authentically with this generation,” Topper says. “Millennials want brands to get to know them; customized or personal campaigns can help brands build more meaningful relationships with this generation.”

Mintel research also shows that 59% of Millennials will stop buying a certain brand’s products if they believe the brand is unethical, while 58% of Millennials agree that where you buy your groceries reflects your personal values compared to 28% of non-Millennials.

“Brands, even retailer brands, are extensions of themselves and a way for Millennials to express who they are,” Topper says. “Brands can encourage Millennials to connect with them as a way to form their own identity and align with the initiatives or values they personally believe in.”

Millennials (52%) are twice as likely as non-Millennials (25%) to agree that traditional grocery stores are not as appealing as specialty stores. Nearly three in five Millennials (57%) say they only shop the fresh sections of grocery stores (e.g., produce, meat and deli) compared to just 30% of non-Millennials. This is in line with Millennials’ increased likelihood to avoid buying processed foods (58% vs 51% of non-Millennials).

Millennials’ foodie mentality is likely increasing their interest in specialty stores, as traditional stores may not offer a strong selection of high quality foods that are locally produced or are from companies they perceive as trustworthy. As they expand their budget for food purchases, specialty stores present an outlet for Millennials to find the fresh, functional foods they desire, Topper says.

Food marketers should consider reaching this tech-friendly generation in a more sophisticated way, she says.

“Millennials are very mobile savvy and are significantly more likely to use their mobile devices while in store, to create a shopping list on their phone, or to look up food products or recipes,” Topper says. “Millennials tend to use a variety of research channels when considering purchases, likely due to a high degree of familiarity and comfort with mobile technology.” 

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