Food for Thought: Catering to Millennial Food Habits

With foodie culture on the rise among millennial consumers, it’s important for marketers to understand the dining habits and preferences of this lucrative age group. The Halo Group recently found that 75% of millennials see food as much more than a means of nourishment, regularly seeking out new food trends as a source of entertainment (i.e. attending food festivals or lining up with friends at 5 am for the latest doughnut-croissant-bagel hybrid). In light of this push toward food-centric experiences, let’s see what’s cooking in the realm of millennial eating habits.

Food Habits: Millennials Are Social Foodies

Where are millennial consumers looking for food inspiration? On social media, of course! 41% of millennials login to Facebook every day, with 29% using Instagram regularly and 25% making sure to get their daily dose of Snapchat. Yet millennials are not only using social to live tweet the latest episode of Game of Thrones—they’re also talking about food. According to the annual Food News Study, in addition to seeking out content shared by media outlets and publishers, 20% of millennials receive their food news via Facebook posts from peers.

Millennial Food Habits

Source: Fluent

More good news for advertisers aiming to reach foodies online: 63% of millennials said that their purchase decisions were affected at least occasionally by ads on social media networks. If millennials are posting, sharing, and commenting on food-related social posts, then brands seeking to serve up promotional ads already have a captive—and hungry—audience on sites like Facebook and Instagram.

What else can your brand do to reach millennials on social media? Find out here.

Boiling Down Millennial Food Habits

While millennials enjoy the convenience of ordering in from their favorite restaurant, 47% cook at home 5 or more times per week. And by “cooking” we don’t only mean microwaving a bowl of Easy Mac—The Spoon reveals that only 11% of millennials are heating up frozen food or instant meals. Seeking to get a bit more hands-on in the kitchen, 32% of millennials are cooking simple 1-2 ingredient dishes like burgers or spaghetti, while 23% are testing recipes that require upwards of 30 minutes to prepare.

Millennial Food Habits

Source: The Spoon

Key takeaway: Millennials want healthy and sophisticated meal options, and are willing to carve out some time (though it may be limited) to prepare satisfying dishes.

Forming a Habit: DIY Dinner

Millennials are looking for an upgrade from frozen pizza, and meal subscription services are helping them to develop more “grown-up” food habits.  While meal-kit subscriptions boxes require a bit more effort than ordering Chinese takeout, they’re the perfect alternative for novice cooks and people with limited time for grocery shopping and meal prep. Millennials who are in the habit of cooking their food may be uninterested in boxed dinners (15% believe that meal-kits are for those who cannot cook) but for those who have not been created in the image and likeness of Bobby Flay, meal kits are a quick, easy, and healthy option. Based on these features, it’s not surprising that of the 16% of Americans who currently subscribe to a meal-kit delivery service, 24% of those are between the ages of 18 and 34.

Millennial Food Habits

Source: Fluent

Although subscription service providers like Blue Apron are struggling with customer retention, companies continue to place faith in the future of the meal-kit (as evidenced by Amazon’s recent acquisition of Whole Foods, sending Blue Apron into a tailspin earlier last month).  With so many cooks in the kitchen—Hello FreshHome Chef, & Plated, to name a few—meal-kit subscription providers must learn how to best satisfy millennials’ appetite for flexibility, convenience, and customization.

Click here to see which subscription meal boxes are most popular among U.S. consumers.

How to Capitalize on Millennial Food Habits

Meal-kit subscription services make a perfect gift for newly-married couples or college undergrads looking to jump ship on unappetizing dining hall fare. But how can companies like Blue Apron hold onto millennial subscribers once they’ve been hooked? Check out our tips below for all the buzz-worthy dining features that millennials love:

Healthy & Natural Food Habits

Seeing food as an extension of personal identity, millennials are choosing healthy or socially responsible dining options as a signpost for their commitment to sustainability efforts. In a November 2016 survey of US consumers, Maru/Matchbox found that when shopping for groceries, millennials are much more likely to value features such as “GMO free” and “locally sourced” than their older counterparts. In fact, 8 in 10 millennials feel more responsible or health conscious when they choose products that are organic, natural, or sustainably sourced, leading to an increased demand for premium food and beverage options—a trend that subscriptions services can leverage in their meal offerings and branding strategy.

Features that millennials crave:

  • Paleo, gluten-free, vegetarian options
  • Carb and calorie-conscious recipes
  • Recyclable and compostable packaging
  • Pre-portioned servings that minimize food waste
  • Fresh, thoughtfully sourced ingredients

Quick & Convenient Food Habits

Fluent has found that 13% of millennials make weekly purchases using their computers, while 15% buy items directly from their smartphones—and this doesn’t apply solely to products like a  new pair of shoes. According to Cowen and Company, 12% of U.S. grocery shoppers bought their groceries online last year, with millennials leading the pack when it comes to taking advantage of at-home delivery services.  If millennials tend to fill up their grocery carts online, rather than in-stores, meal-kits subscription services should focus on improving the UX experience of their websites and mobile apps in order to keep customers coming back for seconds.

Millennial Food Habits

Source: Fluent

Features that millennials crave:

  • Skipping long lines at the grocery stores
  • Choosing meal selections online or in-app
  • Quick meal prep – 30 minutes or less

Social Media-Friendly Food Habits

If there’s one thing millennials love more than snapping selfies, it’s posting pictures of food on social media. Meal-kit subscription providers can experiment with exciting packaging and encourage users to add a special hashtag to images of their meal prep or finished culinary creations. Try launching a “daily dish” contest on social and offer a bonus meal or limited-edition dessert option for the winning submission. Featuring user-generated content on your brand’s social account and offering rewards to loyal customers are perfect ways to incentivize millennials to engage with, and feel more connected to, your brand.

Features that millennials crave:

  • Artsy packaging
  • Engaging with brands on social media

For more insights on millennial food habits (and the other types of subscription boxes consumers are signing up for), check out Fluent’s full subscription services report here.