CHICAGO—Millennials are a critical consumer group, and as they shift into new life stages, it’s important for food and beverage companies to stay on top of their changing needs and preferences, particularly in the areas of health and wellness, quality and value. Busy lifestyles means this generation is looking for on-the-go snacks that not only taste good, but meet their nutritional needs.
Recently, Y-Pulse® and The Culinary Visions® Panel conducted a study with more than 1,000 consumers to better understand the factors that drive snack purchase decisions for consumers in different age groups and life stages. The study examined younger Millennials, ages 19-25, middle Millennials, ages 26-30 and older Millennials, ages 31-36.
Results reveal that overall, Millennial consumers do not care as much about defining an eating experience as a meal or snack as they do about satisfying their need to eat what they want, when and where they choose to eat it. And when it comes to choosing snacks 94% of Millennials consider freshness important or very important, followed by craving (89%), comfort (86%) and healthfulness (83%).
“As members of this large demographic group have matured, it has become important to gain a deeper understanding of the factors that influence their food decisions away from home. Young consumers who are still finishing college and living at home behave differently than those in transition to their own financial independence or those who are heads of their own households with young children," said Sharon Olson, executive director of Y-Pulse.
Younger Millennials are snacking more often in the past year, yet they say they are also cooking at home more often in the past year. They have a “snack throughout the day" lifestyle rather than making a commitment to regular meals. Convenience stores are their venue of choice for snacks unless they are living on campus when they will choose the cafeteria more often.
Middle Millennials are snacking most during the late afternoon and before dinner. They are the group least likely to bring snacks from home. They favor convenience stores and quick service restaurants for their snack choices.
Older Millennials are snacking mid-morning and late afternoon at about the same amount as they did a year ago. This group enjoys cheese, nuts and bakery items as snacks more than any other age group. They are also the most likely to bring snacks from home.
Men are twice as likely to choose casual dining or fast casual restaurants for snacks and they are more likely to go to workplace cafeterias, supermarket delis and quick service venues than women. Women are making snacks at home almost twice as much as men, and they are going to drug stores and supermarket bakeries more than men.
Another up-and-coming consumer segment is Generation Z, which includes kids born from the early 2000s to the present day, and eyes are turning to product developers to design good-for-you snacks that not only give kids what they want, but feed them what they need. The free “Healthy Snacks For Kids" Digital Pulse Issue from Food Product Design provides an overview of the latest USDA regulations regarding snacks served in schools, reveals parents’ views on snacks they want to feed their kids, and offers insight into formulating for the younger set, including a look at incorporating the flavors, colors and formats they want along with the nutrition they need.