I quote from a press release about the launch of iD gum: “Today’s teens are seeking inspiration to discover and explore their multiple passions, and by embodying a ‘kinda’ mentality (kinda more than gum, kinda amazing), this gum [iD] is designed to accompany them on that journey.”
So there you have it (kinda).
Teenagers “believe it's better to explore individuality by staying open-minded rather than define themselves with a single identity”, says Kraft, which has also developed Artcade (new online games teens can play on iD's Facebook pagethat promise to deliver “a mind-blowing, totally unique arcade experience”).
Today's teens are looking for an emotional connection with brands
Feeling old yet?
Well get with the scene, not with the herd, says Stephanie Wilkes, vice president NA Confections, Kraft Foods: "Today's teens are really looking for that emotional connection with their brands and are hungry for new ways to explore and display their creativity and individuality.”
Of course, CPG brands have always sought to pull off the trick of convincing us that purchasing their products offers us a unique way to express our individuality.
However, with more limited editions (Doritos mystery flavors), multiple packaging variants (iD is packed in 18 different designs from emerging artists), engaging with consumers from the get go (vote online for your favorite flavor), and encouraging shoppers to engage with brands via social media, food marketers targeting Millennials (16-30yrs) are taking this to a whole new level.
The brand must not only be accessible, but willing to openly engage in dialogue
While you may feel cynical (or just old) when you read a press release about a gum “embodying a ‘kinda’ mentality”, one thing about which experts appear to agree with Kraft is that brands must be willing to engage with younger consumers more openly and directly.
A great product is “not the end point for this informed consumer, it’s just the beginning”, Beverly Murray, founder of branding agency R+M, tells FoodNavigator-USA.
“The brand must not only be accessible, but willing to openly engage in dialogue… Staying in the Millennials’ pantry means not only developing quality products, but also connecting to the emotional attributes that drive their decisions and conversations.
“How does the purchase of this product exhibit their financial acumen and/or social values? Does the packaging convey a brand that stands for or against their shared values? “
Convenience, customization, social impact, fresh and healthy
So how can the food industry meet the needs of this audience, which is pushing it to “develop higher quality products to meet their demanding expectations from adventurous flavors to organically grown, from global origins to sustainable packaging”, asks Murray?
First, think about convenience, customization, social impact, fresh and healthy, she says. “Re-imagine the buying experience starting from their front door not yours.
“How might the meat-buying exercise become a meal-planning experience? Provide consumers with the opportunity to pre-order customized meats online. Through your website, present the meat selection with education regarding the cut, how-to-cook videos and adventurous spice combinations reflective of different cultures.”
And while young people are often accused of apathy, selfishness and a lousy attention span, they are actually pushing the food industry to do the right thing, observes Murray.
“The next decade will expand our palettes, preserve our planet and improve our health.”
Take a stand: Refuse to sell some things… and vociferously explain why
Millennials are also forcing retailers to re-evaluate the shopping experience, says Lori Colman, founder of marketing agency Colman Brohan Davis.
This doesn’t mean 20-somethings are buying all their groceries online, she says, but they do present challenges for traditional supermarkets, which are losing out to specialty stores, Whole Foods, convenience stores and farmer’s markets that cater to the “experiential and purist buyer” - especially the higher income variety.
So what can big box stores do to fight back? Lots of things, says Colman, including:
- Test store-within-a-store concepts to give Millennials the customized experience they are looking for…
- Present grocery offerings with peripheral products that create total solutions: spaghetti dinner for 4… birthday party solutions…
- Lead the way in innovating private label products and invite Millennials to partner with them…
- Be more authoritative in steering people toward better quality, nutrition and value…’if you like that, try this.’
- Strive for uniqueness and added value instead of parity…
- Refuse to sell some things and vociferously explain why…
The last suggestion ties into a broader point about how retailers can target young people by standing for something as well as differentiating themselves with more innovative, healthy, sustainable or exclusive private label products, she says.
Historically, food retailers have not exploited the enviable customer-facing position they enjoy and have instead stayed neutral in order to “pacify manufacturers”, claims Colman.
But this neutrality “results in taking little to no responsibility for the healthfulness of what they sell, and locks them into the low margin game they are playing”, she argues.
Energy, focus and concentration
So what product areas are of particular interest to Millennials?
Sharon Benedict, copywriter at IMG, which specializes in brand marketing for firms in the health and nutrition space, highlights three key opportunities:
- Energy (Products providing instant energy in the form of energy drinks, protein bars, caffeinated foods or capsules).
- Focus and concentration (Millennials are not afraid to stay up all night playing video games or cramming for a test, and they’ll pop a capsule to stay focused).
- Vision (Gaming and studying mean tired eyes, they want eye drops or capsules that refresh their vision).
Click here to read what market researchers think Millennials care about.
FoodNavigator-USA and NutraIngredients-USA are hosting an online conference on October 2 focussing on marketing to consumers at different life stages, from infants to baby boomers.
Click here to find out more and to register.