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Survey Probes Millennials' Favorite Food, Retail Brands

San Pellegrino mineral water, Angie’s snacks, Wal-Mart and Target lead Millennial foodies’ favorite food and food retail brands, according to a “Love List” survey from Condé Nast and Goldman Sachs.

This marks the first time that the media company and financial firm have expanded their Love List research beyond fashion, to food, beverages and food retailers.

The study also probed what factors drive Millennials’ brand choices. 

It was conducted as an aided brand affinity study among a national sample of 7,555 U.S. consumers, with a subset of 564 Condé Nast Millennial food-enthusiast consumers who expressed a high interest in cooking, dining and entertaining. Participants were prompted with 35 attributes that they used to describe brands that they purchased, from a master list of 172 brands and 58 retailers.

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Among the Millennials, the top 10 favorite food brands are San Pellegrino (cited by 81%), Angie’s (77%), Haribo (71%), Duncan Hines (70%), Bertolli Frozen (67%), Nespresso (67%), Poland Spring (67%), Starbucks (67%), Yoplait (67%) and Noosa (64%).

The No. 11 through No. 20 brands are Ferrero Rocher, Justin's Nut Butters, Coca-Cola, International Delight, Kashi, Dove Chocolate, Pillsbury, Clif, Cheez-It and Fage.

In comparison, the top 10 favorite food retailers among the cross-generational national sample are Nespresso, San Pellegrino, Starbucks, Ben & Jerry’s, Coca-Cola, Noosa, Angie’s, Folgers, Fage and Peet’s Coffee.

The study confirmed three broad trends:

* Millennials want healthy snacks. Forty percent of brands that made the Love List are traditional snack brands, of those, 75% have a health focus like Angie’s & Noosa. Top attributes for all brand favorites include “convenient,” “easy to find” and “good tasting” — all of which align with Millennials’ snacking propensity. (The brand rankings also underline Millennials’ strong attachment to yogurt and premium coffee brands.) 

* When price and quality are consistent, brand ethos is paramount. Consumers—Millennials in particular—are focused on authenticity, transparency and connectivity when it comes to the brands they buy. To succeed, brands need to be clear about what they stand for.
“When it comes to the food brands they’re choosing to purchase, like Kashi, Clif and Bear Naked, Millennials are looking to those that connect with them and fit into their lifestyles,” summed up Pamela Drucker Mann, chief marketing officer of Condé Nast. 

*Millennials areone-stop-shoppers. They’re focused on convenience, good value and consistency. The convenience factor makes them more likely to shop at retailers that offer a variety of options beyond the food category. All of which explains why Wal-Mart and Target are their most popular shopping destinations. Target also now offers a convenience-friendly small-store format, with grocery at front and center.
Still, there isn’t a great deal of spread among the retailers they most favor, indicating that they’re by no means strictly loyal to one or two retail brands. Wal-Mart was cited by 43%, Target by 42%, Whole Foods by 39%, Trader Joe’s by 34%, Costco by 30%, and Kroger by 21%. 

Although Amazon still has a small share of actual U.S. grocery sales, it’s perhaps not surprising that fully 17% of Millennials cited the e-tailer as among their favorite food retailers — or that Amazon, which covets Millennials, is now planning to acquire one of their top picks, Whole Foods.

In comparison, the top 10 favorite food retailers cited by the cross-generational national sample are Wal-Mart (35%), Costco (34%), Trader Joe’s (33%), Whole Foods (32%), Target (25%), Kroger (19%), Safeway (16%), Aldi (15%), Sam’s Club (13%) and Amazon (12%).

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