An Open Letter to CEOs

January 05, 2015

Are you a T-Rex brand resistant to change - losing Millennial customers as a result?

Are you wondering if your CPG brands aren’t as beloved by Millennials as you believe? Or if your brands that sit in center-store are often misunderstood by this most important consumer generation?

This generation – about 80 million strong – feels it has little to believe in except itself. These 18-34 year olds graduated into a tough job market, a slow economy, tight housing, paralyzed government, global conflicts, and a food world where transparency is anything but the rule. 

At least by shopping the perimeter of the store – produce, meat, seafood – Millennials feel they can control more of what they eat and support more of their own health goals. Their smaller quarters mean less storage space and less pantry loading, which further stack trends against CPG brands that refuse to change their ways. Greater nutrition awareness and new smartphone apps help Millennials be selective in their food buying. Millennials also read nutrition panels and utilize social media for help in what to choose.

It’s a new world in stores, media and consumer demands. Some of these trends seem more obvious to newer brands making inroads than to T-Rex brands with short arms to embrace Millennial shoppers and sell them products with two key elements they want – transparency and trust. 

The start of 2015 is a good time to look in the mirror and see it was your own actions that made some Millennials opt for fresh rather than your brands. A few examples that broke the trust: A major CPG buys a trusted, independent organic brand, but doesn’t keep its products organic so it can achieve lower costs. CPG imposes price hikes by trimming ounces from packages, yet tries to keep package dimensions the same to conceal the price rise and retain shelf space. CPG alters content with lower-cost ingredients.

Loyalty should go both ways. Millennials won’t stick around if this kind of behavior persists. It’s time for CPG to resolve to do better this year.