Today’s post comes from Ypulse team member Gwen Radsch.
The Millennial Meal Plan
As the US Census has frequently reported, the Millennial generation is extremely diverse. With this diversity comes an exposure to many different cultures, including traditional, and not-so-traditional, cuisine. International is becoming local and the flavors of every country have never been so easy to find as they are today. For example, in our Lifeline Report on Food and Beverage habits among Millennials conducted earlier this year, we found that 33% consume rice, almond, or soy milk at least occasionally. These types of milks were pretty rare not too long ago, but now a full third of Millennials consider them a standard part of their diet.
Millennials are approaching food and meals in a very different way; it is less about just grabbing a bite and more about creating a memory. A quick look at Instagram, Pinterest, or the many Tumblrs devoted to food will show you that this generation doesn’t just expect a meal at the dinner table, but rather to have an influential experience. Fully 1 in 5 (21%) Millennials report that they have attended a food festival which shows how food has evolved into more than just calories, but instead evokes a communal experience that was once reserved for music and Star Trek.
Recently, much has been made of the fact that Millennials are less brand loyal than Boomers when it comes to food purchases. It is possible that the economy is impacting whether this generation is willing to pay extra for a brand name, but given that they are in a highly experimental time in their lives, many of them cooking for themselves for the first time, it is more likely they haven’t figured out which aisle in the supermarket fits them best. The critical question, however, is do they even want to?
This generation is more DIY than pre-packaged. Around 4 in 10 (42%) told Ypulse that they visit farmer’s markets at least a few times every season and two-thirds (68%) like to try different types of food. Millennials are looking to pay for more than just a tomato. They want a local Jersey organic tomato that was grown on a sustainable farm, in season, and is bursting with flavor. Furthermore, as one of our Youth Advisory Board members, Camilla, pointed out earlier this year, “it’s not uncommon to see Millennials making meals with complex dietary requirements — one friend is a vegan, another is diabetic — but the more restrictions, sometimes, the more inventive one has to be.” Millennials are marked by their desire for the custom-made and they expect to be able to whip up a new meal with a moment’s notice.
If they aren’t sure how to make kimchi, a quick Google search will turn up countless recipes and styles. If they aren’t sure what kimchi is, that doesn’t stop them from digging in and having a bite. After all, even if it isn’t a flavor they put into their regular rotation, it is all about the experience of trying something new.
Gwen joined Ypulse with a background in custom research — both qualitative and quantitative — developed while working at RoperASW (now GfK) and Harris Interactive. Having also spent around 5 years on the client side she understands the value of being a partner in the research process. Gwen suspects that her amazing experiences as a double major in Sociology and Communications at Rutgers University led to her passion for youth culture and staying on top of the latest college trends. To avoid the “Freshman 15” most days you can find her either running loops of Central Park or riding her bike along the Hudson River, ever in training for the next triathlon on her schedule.