What do young people want when it comes to food? This question is essential for producers to answer – the rising millennial generation is coming into its own as these individuals set out on their own and start families. The success or failure of a brand could depend on its potential to appeal to Generation Y sensibilities.
One potentially fruitful angle to take when appealing to young shoppers involves suiting their preferences not just when it comes to ingredients and production methods, but the way those facts are listed on packaging. Millennial food labeling preferences are important for brands to learn and internalize.
A New Take on Food
Top Producer Editor Sara Schafer recently interviewed food industry thinker Mary Shelman for Farm Journal magazine. Shelman revealed that the millennial approach to choosing and prioritizing foods differs from the way previous generations have thought about their diets. For instance, young diners are more willing to experiment with new styles of meals, trying something new every day. Furthermore, these shoppers are interested in buying from companies that align with their values and have a keen interest in healthy eating.
The millennial interest in "clean" foods goes beyond base-level statistics such as calorie counts and ingredient lists. Shelman pointed out that today's buyers are invested in the ways items have been created. Organic methods have value, and shoppers may opt for items that are largely un-processed. Clean labeling targeting millennials should likely take a detail-oriented approach.
Finding Out What 'Clean' Means
One of the hardest parts of adopting a clean labeling strategy could involve figuring out what people expect to see listed on packaging, as well as what words and terms brands are legally allowed to use. Food Navigator USA spoke with Flavorchem Research and Development Director Jim Hamernik, who confirmed there is no universal consensus about clean labeling. He admitted that when polled about their definitions of clean labeling, respondents' answers are "all over the place."
Hamernik added that people have begun to consider production methods as well as ingredients when inspecting healthful foods. Even if a brand is able to reduce the number of artificial substances in foods, they may not make the sale if those items are too heavily processed. Companies that are able to get their products to high standards of simplicity should trumpet that fact on labels to increase their millennial appeal.