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A Lesson for Marketers from Foodies

From November 1, 2013 – Engage: GenY – A Lesson for Marketers from Foodies

No other generation has taken the term “foodie” to the level of Millennials. Just as the amount of Instagram photos of duck confit has risen in recent years, so has the amount of money that Generation Y is willing to spend on a good meal and a night out. According to an infographic on, 87% of Millennials will splurge on a nice meal even when money is tight. So why is there such an interest in quality food among Millennials? And what can marketers as a whole learn from this trend?

Variety and Choice

I have touched upon the importance of variety and choice when referring to Millennials in the past. As I highlighted in my May 2013 Engage: GenY contribution – The Key Is Choice – some brands, such as Subway, Chipotle and Panera Bread, understand this and have tailored their menus to accommodate the Millennial state of mind with customization; others, such as McDonald’s, have struggled. However, this goes beyond the work being done by most quick-serve restaurants. Members of Generation Y are naturally more adventurous and curious than previous generations, translating to an eclectic taste in food. The aforementioned infographic also highlights that 40% of Millennials surveyed said they order a different menu item every time they return to a restaurant, making the need to offer variety more apparent. If a menu gets too bland or boring, Millennials will move on to the next establishment.

The Place to Be

While a restaurant’s reputation has always heavily depended on word-of-mouth, this has never been more true than it is today. Sixty-eight percent of Millennials will ask a friend before trying a new restaurant. And with smartphones constantly in hand, restaurant reviews can easily be found with a few clicks. In some cases, Yelp reviews will be ranked higher on a search engine than a restaurant’s actual website, making first impressions vitally important. Recent Nielsen data also found that mobile searches for restaurants convert to food orders 90% of the time.

As food content’s takeover of social media would suggest, dining has acquired a definitive social aspect over the past decade, as well. Forty-five percent have said they feel less comfortable eating a meal alone, while 55% prefer communal tables at restaurants. And, of course, when they do dine out a camera always seems to be within reaching distance.

Health is a Big Deal – Kind of 

Eighty percent of Millennials want to know exactly where there food comes from. It’s why fortune favors the transparent when trying to appeal to them. Thirty percent of Millennials eat foods that are certified organic (compared to 21% of Generation X and 15% of Baby Boomers). On the contrary, Millennials value convenience, which doesn’t bode well for a healthy diet. According to trend watchers, 35% of meals eaten by Millennials are really snacks. Meanwhile, nearly one-third of 16 to 27 year olds are overweight. Perhaps the growth of cupcake and other comfort food destinations has balanced out some Millennials’ health-conscious habits.

Health consequences aside, the fact remains that food has become a prominent talking point among Millennials. While this may seem random, factors such as social structure and technology are largely responsible for the movement. It would behoove brands in other categories to study the situation to figure out how to apply it to their own individual strategies.

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