Millenials: Show Them You Know Them

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.‬

Atmospheric Influences

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.