Millennials are now the largest shopper group in the United States, and their behaviors, beliefs and preferences have been dissected endless different ways. The second installment of the FMI Power of Produce contrasts Millennial behavior against that of other generations and finds some big differences throughout the path to purchase that provide important clues on how to best appeal to this demographic.
Millennials show a strong like for many of the specialty attributes or transparency callouts that can be found in the produce department: non-GMO, locally grown, natural and organic. Millennials are putting money where their mouths are by driving double-digit sales gains in both dollars and units and bolstering business at stores known for these specialty offerings.
For locally grown, Millennials, like all other generations, strongly believe in supporting their community and more freshness. But there is an important difference, too — the environment. Millennials are almost twice as likely to cite lesser environmental impact as a reason to buy locally sourced items than the oldest shopper group. Regarding organic, they believe better taste is almost as important as the perceived longer-term health benefits — placing the importance of taste well ahead of the other generations.
Good Bargains Outside The Circular
While paper continues to be an important way to connect with shoppers in general, Millennials are just as likely to look for promotions in-store as they are to look at the paper circular at the kitchen table. Millennials’ propensity for using digital, social and mobile is evidenced in produce, often showing double, if not quadruple, usage figures for emails, apps, social media or other digital vehicles versus the Boomers.
Connecting with Millennials pre-trip with targeted solutions, meal ideas, recipes and more is a great way to secure the produce purchase and use it as a way to build the basket.
Capturing The Visit
Produce has long been a supermarket stronghold, but increasingly, alternative channels are picking at the produce share. This is particularly true for Millennials, who like shopping at supercenters, specialty stores and farmers markets and have no problem with ordering produce online or through meal kit delivery services. The scattered produce purchases of Millennials should be a red flag for traditional retailers, but may also be a way to cement their loyalty by offering a convenient online shopping platform, supported by their trusted primary produce department.
Attention-Grabbing Education, and Fun Displays
While price and promotions influence the purchase during pre-trip planning, Millennials are very susceptible to impulse and point to eye-catching displays, recipe/serving ideas, nutrition callouts and sampling as drivers of unplanned produce purchases. They are much more interested to learn about the product, its origin and ways to prepare it. As such, education and information are two very important platforms to connect with these younger shoppers by using in-store and on-pack signage. Retailers should take advantage of this knowledge and provide personnel and materials that can help inform the Millennial shopper while they are in the department.
Entice Via Convenience, Freshness And Affordability
Convenience is a trend that cuts across all steps of the path to purchase: whether online list building or shopping, fixed-weight packages, microwave-ready items, pre-cut or washed value-added produce or complete dinner kits, convenience strikes a chord with busy shoppers. While Millennials emphasize preparation speed and like the idea of more fixed-weight packages, they are not the top takers of value-added produce. Price points and lack of perceived freshness are two important barriers for stores to overcome to grow this category among Millennials.
Growing The Mature Category
Fresh produce is a mature category, and driving growth requires innovative strategies aimed at moving shoppers into new usage occasions, new categories and to higher consumption frequencies. Millennials lag on the home-cooked number of meals that include fresh produce — in part because of their higher propensity to eat out. But they are looking to increase their fresh produce intake. Beyond the main meal occasions, growth can be driven through both snacking and juicing. Millennials are all about on-the-go and nutritious solutions, but also show a higher-than-average interest in some of the latest merchandising trends.
Unconventional Shopping Occasions
Greater variety is the No. 1 area for improving the produce department, according to shoppers. This is underscored by the call for a better variety of specialty items, including non-GMO, natural, organic, and local. The second is lower prices, in particular, everyday prices. Millennials show greater price sensitivity than older shoppers. Operational areas, including better quality/freshness, improved in-stock conditions, better cleanliness and having clearly-marked pricing is a third area. Keep in mind, Millennials often shop later in the day and may not encounter the most optimal of store conditions. Lastly, Millennials recommend improved shopper outreach and customer service, including sampling, a variety of recipes, available and knowledgeable produce associates, and cooking demonstrations.
The Power of Produce 2016 — Shopper research by the Food Marketing Institute, made possible by FMI Fresh Foods Leadership Council, Yerecic Label, Hill Phoenix, and conducted by 210 Analytics.