By Donald Burns
Millennial foodies are literally the ‘tastemakers’ when it comes to what we put in our mouths, where we buy it and how we want it packaged.
Food trends tend to trickle up the generational ladder; what Millennials want in food today is what they will all soon be asking for.
Here are some of the more interesting “tidbits” we’ve encountered that shed light on Millennial food trends. Be sure to scroll down to see the infographic, “What Millennials Eat.” It’s one of the most interesting summaries I’ve seen!
Hint: Click on the titles to read the full article. Bon Appetit!
They are thrill-seekers who crave heightened eating experiences such as intense flavors and extreme textures. “The typical Gen Y eater swoons over unusual food forms, flavor profiles tweaked with unexpected or dramatic twists and of course, vivid global cuisines, especially when they blend fresh and spicy.” (They have a) penchant for customizing foods through adds-ons or mix-ins (the reason they love fajitas and other “build-it-yourself” foods).
When is the last time that you sat down to eat three square meals a day — or two or even one? If you are a “millennial” (born somewhere between 1980 and 2000) chances are you haven’t had much experience with this ritual. According to trend watchers, 35 percent of meals eaten by millennials are really snacks. Combining foods traditionally served at breakfast, lunch and dinner, has led to terms such as “linner,” “brinner” and “slunch.”
It’s on trend to be a foodie. In the past few years, the circulation numbers for Bon Appétit magazine have been at an all-time high. And more than just enjoying gourmet food, millennials feel it is important to be socially responsible foodies. 70% of millennials are buying less bottled water because of the negative environmental impact. Because millennials grew up in an education system that promoted group work over individual study, soliciting peer feedback is a way of life. This generation prefers to go grocery shopping with friends rather than alone, and they use phone apps to scan barcodes and find out more about a product before adding it to their cart.
Entrée? Who serves entrées anymore? In fact, the words “appetizer” and “entrée,” those suddenly embarrassing relics of the past, do not appear anywhere on the menus of our top 20 newcomers. Lincoln Park’s Rustic House flirts with but deftly avoids the dirty words, opting instead for “starters” and “mains.” But calling small plates a trend misses the point entirely. Small plates are not a trend or even a movement. They’re the new reality. The vibe today is of a tasting party, with forks flashing, drinks flowing, and the barrier between chefs and diners often stripped away.
Millennials are especially interested in the story behind their food and looking to learn more about what’s in it and how it’s made: 8 in 10 said they like “behind the scenes” commercials for foods they consume, they want to know more about how their food is produced, and they think brands don’t disclose enough about their food products. Gen Xers are somewhat less interested, while Boomers lag the Millennials by about 15 points on each question.
Hip eco-friendly packaging as well as unique flavors and textures enhances the appeal of food products for Millennials shopping the center of the store. Food companies are realizing that time-tested package designs like cans, jars and bottles in many ways do not jive with the Millennial lifestyle and this generation’s unique attitudes towards food, health, and the environment.
Millennials are more spontaneous and adventurous than previous generations in their interactions with food. They enjoy eating with others (we call it “commensality-style dining”), whether cooking at home or going to happy hour with friends, and report they feel less comfortable eating a meal alone (45% vs. 54% of older consumers). Millennials believe they consume healthier, more expensive, more natural/organic, less processed and better tasting foods and brands than their parents.They also are more likely than previous generations to be gender neutral when it comes to the role of cooking (61% of females and 60% of males enjoy cooking). They consider food an adventure and seek out different, ethnic and artisan foods (40% like to try new kinds of ethnic cuisines and “anything new and different,” compared to 34% and 32% respectively of GenX/Boomers combined)