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Anyone who wants to respond to food trends needs to observe the behaviour of millennials, the new group of consumers born between 1980 and 2000. Trendwatcher and chief editor of Food Inspiration magazine, Hans Steenbergen, makes the connection to the world of food. “Eating is an important aspect in millennials’ lives and that’s reflected in their choices.”
More than just fuel
“Studies have shown that millennials are aware that the wrong food choices have a negative impact on their health and the health of the planet.” The higher educated among them are particularly critical and influential in terms of public opinion. “These influencers set the standard by really seeing food as a lifestyle choice. For example, they become vegans, flexitarians or avoid sugar. As long as it reflects their life values.” And this is a fundamental difference with previous generations. “For older generations the price of food is important. They grew up knowing scarcity. Where they view food primarily as fuel, millennials emphasise the pureness of the ingredients and the taste.”
Food for connectivity
Millennials are the first generation to have grown up with the internet. “They’re online a lot of the time, the smartphone is their most important device and they can’t survive without WiFi. This means they’re open to new digital developments and innovation. And they expect brands to have a relevant online presence and to be accessible. They share questions on social media or through Whatsapp and they expect instant answers. They’re kind of the nowism generation, they want immediate answers.” In terms of food, according to Steenbergen, it’s one huge online catwalk. “They challenge each other with their online behaviour. From the most elegant coffees to culinary masterpieces.” Food is by far the most popular thing to share online. “Everyone photographs and shares everything with their outside world. In that sense food is also a form of connectivity for millennials, it brings people closer together.”
Dealing with millennials: today & tomorrow
According to Steenbergen, craft bakers and on the spot bakers possess the best story of all but they make the least use of it. “Craft bakers should showcase their craft more in order to attract millennials. Make the area in which the bread is prepared visible. And bake bread all day long, not just from 4 to 9 am.” In addition, Steenbergen recommends distinguishing yourself with ingredients. “Avoid uniformity of taste and structure. Create unique ingredients, that also gives you a great pitch to consumers.” Steenbergen says there’s a lot of room for pastry chefs to improve, too. “Then there’s the whole topic of health. Of course millennials also like to treat themselves and they allow themselves to transgress, but sooner or later the ‘healthy sinning’ trend is going to arrive. Pastry bakers can anticipate this by taking a critical look at the amount of food colourings, additives, sugars and e-numbers they use.”
Start a dialogue
It’s essential to be honest and transparent if you want to target millennials, says Hans. “If you’re not, you will be corrected immediately. You must not want to only broadcast. You have to enter a dialogue with this generation. According to Steenbergen retailers are setting the right example. “They are increasingly present and credible online. They try to build meaningful relationships with inspiring content.” In Steenbergen’s opinion the general rule remains that you have to be where the target group is. “In the case of millennials that’s mostly online and on social media. As an artisan you can also engage effectively with these online platforms. Ensure that your product and your story are distinctive. Cool photos and videos will create a bond and result in ambassadors who in turn will want to share and tell your story. If you manage that smartly, you can create a huge reach with a limited budget.”
“When I look to the future I imagine that food is going to be increasingly customised. Thanks to technology consumers will get personalized dietary recommendations based on their DNA. A kind of ‘science-based, data-driven menu’. So what’s right for you doesn’t have to be right for me. That means we’re no longer going to choose our food based what we feel like eating at any given time, but based on recommendations from an application on our phones.”
Interesting how Puratos can help you to serve the millennials? Don’t hesitate to contact your local Puratos representative.
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