Simple steps for attracting “adventurous” Millennials
We all know Millennials are a key food target market. They like to spend rather than save, because many believe buying a house is out of reach. They also care about their health, and have been a primary driver in the development of nutraceuticals and responsible for a broad reorientation of the whole food industry towards more healthy foods.
Along with helping to define their personal identity, a search for “adventure” has also emerged as a key factor in how Millennials engage with food. Research has found that 75 per cent of Millennials believe eating is “an experience”. The same research identified that Millennials are much more likely than other generations to base their travel decisions on “adventures” and “experiences”. The bottom line is that for Millennials, food, adventure and travel are inextricably intertwined.
This notion is supported by other research showing that 60 per cent of Millennials expect to be more adventurous with the type of cuisine they eat while travelling, and 81 per cent use food as a means to explore new cultures. These insights are great for travel agents seeking to promote international holidays in obscure locations, however, how can it help the Australian food industry?
A recent study found that 40 per cent of Millennials are interested in innovative flavors and “global smashups” on the menu. Peri peri is a great example of a flavour that evolved from exotic to mainstream in a relatively short period of time and can now be found in fast food restaurant menus. Social media is often a good indication of a growing trend and flavours that are increasingly being mentioned on social media include harissa, ras el hanout and shichimi.
Many of these flavours stem from specific countries or types of cuisines. Korean and Vietnamese foods are now well known with restaurants located in most café precincts. Experts predict that Peruvian and African based flavours and meal formats will be the next to take off.
Given the incredibly multicultural nature of Australian society, it is likely that we will continue to see new international cuisines develop for many years to come. As 31 per cent of Australian Millennials were born in Asia, look out for dishes from Indonesia, the Philippines, and Malaysia etc.
An interesting related trend has been the rise in traditional/artisan cooking styles and food types. For example, Zimt, a popular traditional Austrian Bakery in Surrey Hills Victoria has both authentic pastries and cakes, and an Austrian version of the iconic vanilla slice (Zimt’s version is definitely more visually attractive and tastier than the traditional Aussie block!).
The key point is that food adventure for Millennials is a search for the exotic; it can be in terms of flavours, ingredients, cooking methods or eating styles. It is interesting to note, however, that for Millennials, health will always be an overriding concern, so American corn dogs are unlikely to become a staple in their diets.
Food brands should consider every option for creating something new and exciting from reinterpreting “boring” foods and/or cooking styles, e.g. swedes and stews, to unusual flavour combinations, cuisines, and eating formats, e.g. savoury deserts. And always, position it as delivering “adventure”.
Anyone who dines out will have observed Millennials taking and sharing pictures of their food (69% admit to doing it but its likely that the actual number is even higher). These photos are exactly like the postcards of old in which your friends related their adventures in foreign locations. In both cases, the purpose behind sharing the images is to convey their excitement of a new experience; an adventure.
For Millennials, diary products that evoke the serenity of wandering among content cows in the verdant hills of Gippsland may well qualify as appealing, as “adventure” is about new experiences, and not necessarily about danger or exertion.
In summary, step back and take a look at how you can add something that is exotic, and visually interesting, to your food products. You may suddenly develop a whole new set of Millennial customers.
Dr. Angeline Achariya is the CEO of Monash Food Innovation Centre. This is the second in a three part series that explores Millennials relationship with food.