5 Key Culture Steps to Successfully Recruit Millennials

May 18, 2015

Our exclusive survey reveals what the younger generation thinks of food careers – and how CPG and retail can more effectively attract them.

Originally published in Facts, Figures & the Future, weekly e-newsletter. 

Food brands and retailers that become most relevant to Millennial consumers will be the ones that infuse their companies and cultures with the thinking, energies and priorities of America’s largest living generation.

Today, several years since the recession, millions of Millennial college graduates and young workers remain unsettled and working beneath their potential in a still-slow hiring market. This means CPG brands and food retailers have an uncommon opportunity right now to recruit best-of-breed talent from these youthful ranks – if they can turn their companies into appealing places of employment.

To learn how apt Millennials are to work in the food industry, what they seek in potential employers, and what companies can proactively do to be more attractive, SupermarketGuru fielded an online survey of younger U.S. adults (67.3% age 18-29, 32.7% age 30-44) in Spring 2015.

Just half (49.3%) of the survey respondents say they “would work for a company in the food industry.” One-quarter says “no” (25.0%), and the remaining quarter (25.7%) is “not sure.”  

The survey further asked people if the food industry is “more or less appealing” to them as a career choice than more than a dozen other industries they may have considered.  

  • A majority of respondents find food “more appealing” than six different fields: sales (83.3%), banking (77.4%), construction (57.1%), finance (56.3%), apparel (55.6%), and technology/software (54.6%). 
  • A majority find food “less appealing” than six different fields: advertising/PR/marketing (75.0%), education (73.9%), law (64.7%), engineering (60.0%), design (57.1%), health care (52.4%). 
  • Food is just as appealing as pet care (50.0%) and accounting (50.0%). 

The three most popular choices within the food industry are manufacturers (42.9%), retailers (39.0%) and restaurants (33.1%), according to responses to a question where people could select their top two. Data show distant trailers include higher-tech options such as subscription service firms (13.0%) and delivery service firms (11.0%), despite the positive press many of these companies garner.

  • This appears to be because, by a wide margin, respondents opt for a “medium-sized company, where you might make a bigger impact sooner” (40.8%). Its lead is significant over “large established company with numerous brands, stores or locations” (23.7%), “small company” (16.5%) and “startup” (7.9%) 

Less than one Millennial in 10 sees the food industry as “a cool place to help improve America” (9.2%) or as “a good place to attain business grounding” (6.9%). More Millennials regard the food industry as “stodgy, slow, not too innovative” (12.2%) and “low status” (21.4%).

CPG and retail food companies face perception challenges among the upcoming generation they’ll need within their ranks. Specifically, where should companies direct their efforts to lift these numbers and improve chances to recruit effectively - so they’ll more ably anticipate and satisfy Millennials’ evolving tastes and shopping demands?

The Millennials point the way to what they want in a company’s culture. On a question where they could name their Top 5 desires, these came out on top:

  • Company offers growth opportunities (44.2%)
  • Company is environmentally conscious (40.9%)
  • Company has a health and wellness image (35.7%)
  • Company helps charities (35.7%)
  • Companies pays competitively (30.5%)

Trendy appears to matter less to Millennials. Among the least popular answers:

  • Company is a hotbed of young talent (9.1%)
  • Company has a cool image with Millennials  (7.8%)
  • Company has social-media savvy (7.1%)
  • Company has an open physical environment (6.5%)