Everyone — Millennials included — wants to know what Millennials are thinking. Considering this is the generation that's rapidly reaching and settling into adulthood, it's important to know how to appeal to its values and desires.
And food, of course, is a major player in every Millennial's life. As a Millennial myself, I can safely say that many of my daily decisions are driven by a desire to obtain and consume food. Despite being notoriously bad at feeding myself, I have what I argue is a deep understanding of the simple joy of eating.
I even have a motto: "Free food is the best food." So although I'll never turn down anything that falls under the labels "premium," "gourmet," or "ribeye steak," sometimes the most important factor is affordability.
Apparently, many of my fellow Millennials agree.
MediaPost discovered in a recent survey that Millennials, defined there as 18-32-year-olds, tend to favor generic or store brands because of cost. Store brands, which topped the survey's list of go-to grocery shopping brands, are perceived as having similar quality to name brands, but cheaper.
Three specific brands (Walmart/Great Value, Trader Joe's, and Kroger) even made the top 10.
That makes sense. Most Millennials are either college students or recent graduates who don't have a lot of disposable income. In an effort to scrimp and save (so we can, instead, blow $80 at happy hour with colleagues and friends), we turn to cheaper options while grocery shopping.
After all, there's something incredibly satisfying about scanning the shelves at a grocery store and grabbing an item marked "SALE." That $0.69 you might save adds up. And in the absence of a sale, going with the least expensive option will do.
Millennials also may not have been grocery shopping long enough to develop strong ties to any particular brand. Case in point: The answer "not brand loyal" came in fourth in MediaPost's survey results.
For those of us who simply aren't familiar enough with brands to have a favorite, picking the cheaper options makes sense. It's like turning on a football game you don't care about and rooting for the winning team just because you think it'll do the least emotional damage.
And shopping around for generic brands not only saves our wallets from taking a hit, it's an easy way to test out different brands to see what we like. Not having loyalties seems to reflect the way Millennials allegedly also pursue romantic relationships – all of the fun, none of the commitment (I say alleged because I like to think I'm not that way).
On the bright side, this lack of loyalty is not necessarily a bad thing for manufacturers.
Just because we're trying different brands now doesn't mean we won't eventually make up our minds. As Millennials inevitably get older, we'll earn more disposable income and become more willing to spend money on name brands that cost more than the private label ones.
That means now is the time to inspire loyalty, and the fact that many Millennials consider themselves not brand loyal means there are opportunities aplenty. It's important to endear young people to brands now so that our allegiance remains in the long run.
So how does one go about doing that?
Appeal to consumers' growing love of natural and sustainably-sourced foods. People are much more aware of what they're putting into their bodies than before.
The MediaPost survey found that over 30 percent of respondents said labels like "all-natural" and "organic" made them more likely to buy a product. Labels like "fresh," "garden," and "farm" were also common finds in the brands that Millennials said they preferred.
A lot of young people also like to look for less mainstream brands. Maybe it's the result of the hipster culture that's creeping into Millennial society. Maybe we're just trying to find something new.
Regardless, creating an engaging consumer experience is important. Charm us with wit, or maybe the overwhelming naturalness of the brand. Convince people it's time to "Treat Yo Self."
If I'm allowed to be completely honest, a lot of people my age have no impulse control. If we like something, we want it now. And therein lies the trick.
MediaPost Survey Top 10 Go-to Brands
1. Store brand
4. Not brand loyal
5. Walmart/Great Value
6. Lay’s/Frito Lay
7. General Mills
8. Trader Joe’s