Millennials' take on food – healthier, costlier

September 19, 2011

Millennials seek new taste experiences and more meatless meals than older consumers. They also eat more impulsively, which could lead to more Quick Trips.

As a generation, Millennials age 16-30 are better traveled than their elders. They're also acutely aware of where they fit into the culture at large, they're reflective of who they are, and they're 50% likelier to feel that "exploring and expressing their personal identity is important."

So finds a Hartman study, The Culture of Millennials 2011, which compares them with Gen Xers age 31-47 and Boomers age 48-65.

These qualitative traits affect their relationships with food and the experience of eating, which in turn could affect their shopping patterns – leading for example to Quick Trips that satisfy desires for more meatless meals and new taste experiences, believes The Lempert Report. For example:
•    Millennials are flexible in their eating routines. For 29% the typical day includes several smaller meals rather than just three; 28% do eat three meals a day and limit snacks; 19% regard snacking as a critical tool in their weight management strategies.
•    72% of Millennials eat white meat such as chicken (77% Gen X/Boomers), 68% eat fresh meat (72% Gen X/Boomers) and 57% eat deli meats (60% Gen X/Boomers)
•    Compared with older consumers, Millennials:  eat impulsively (39% vs. 30% of older consumers), are less likely to have home-cooked meals (39% vs. 51%), feel they can compensate for overindulging with a few solid healthy meals (17% vs. 9%), and would rather not eat alone (45% vs. 54%).
•    While 56% of Millennials enjoy classic American cooking (vs. 67% of Gen X/Boomers), just 49% like Americanized ethnic foods such as TexMex (vs. 51% of older consumers), 47% like fast food (vs. 38%), 40% enjoy trying new kinds of ethnic cuisine (vs. 34%) and 40% enjoy anything new and different (vs. 32%).

Moreover, Millennials say their food/beverage preferences were established when they had a child (42%), moved out of their parents’ home (33%), or started working (26%). Another 25% said this happened when they went to college, moved out alone (24%), moved in with someone (22%), left college (12%) or stopped working (9%), the study says.

More than one-third of Millennials believe their food and beverage choices are healthier (39%), costlier (38%) and more natural/organic (34%) than those of their parents. Yet 29% of Millennials shift back towards their parents’ brands after they have children of their own.