Big Food and the Millennial Food Experience

By Will Dudek and Max Levy

With increased demands for fresh and simple food comes a growing divide between consumer packaged goods (CPG) and wholesome food options. This trend is challenging for the packaged food industry, which lost more than $4 billion in market share in 2014.

Seeking out contemporary foods — and the experiences that accompany them —is just one way that younger consumers are shaking up the food industry. Taking a deeper look into recent food trends, we provide four tips for brands looking to grow their packaged product lines in this new market.

Millennials’ food choices were top of mind for the CEB Inconoculture webinar “Beyond Comfort: Moving Past Flavor Trends to Connect with Food-Aware Consumers.”

Four Top Tips

  • Whether eating out or in, millennial consumers seek fresh, simple food options. They tend to grocery shop for one meal at a time rather than stocking up the pantry. This trend has driven the “meal-in-a-box” concept that CPG brands will look to leverage.
  • According to Google Trends, searches for functional foods with specific health benefits (such as chia, acai, and turmeric) have grown by 10 times since 2005. CPG brands can position themselves effectively by adding superfoods and high-demand ingredients to their product lines.
  • Millennials are more likely than older generations to report that food makes them feel excited, accomplished and adventurous. They love to share new foods with family and friends, and consider themselves micro-influencers. Embracing this emotional aspect of food, brands can hyper-regionalize product descriptions (think “Szechuan Hot and Sour” instead of “Chinese” soup) to introduce adventure, exploration, and education as components of the food experience.
  • Millennials’ food behaviors are contradictory: they want to experience healthy, authentic foods, but are more likely than other generations to eat fast food. While cost sensitive, millennials don’t hesitate to splurge on unique dining experiences. Quick service and fast casual restaurants can adapt fresh, whole food concepts to further attract the hungry, trendy millennial.

Foodie Futurecasting

Millennials’ affinities for adventure and authenticity are at the heart of current food trends. Their penchant for sharing experiences opens the door for brands to tap into the micro-influencer space, creating approachable online conversation around their products. As this generation advances to later stages in life, we expect to see brands adjust strategy toward millennial parents and families who take up these trendy dining habits.

Originally published at

Max Levy is a Research Intern with Room 214. He contributes across multiple research projects, helping his team to effectively communicate insights to a diverse set of clients. Currently studying business administration with a marketing emphasis at CU-Boulder, Max is continually exploring the facets of marketing, advertising, and overall business strategy.

Will Dudek is a Research Intern at Room 214. With experience in marketing, data analysis and UX design, Will uses qualitative and quantitative insights to inform marketing strategy for brands. A senior at Wesleyan University, he is currently pursuing degrees in Sociology and Religious Studies.

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