A pair of new national ethnographic studies from Watershed Communications examine the media habits of Millennial food and beverage consumers—aiming to help marketers understand how to build a stronger sense of trust with Gen Y consumers. The first report, Media Habits of Millennials study, investigates whether social media and influencer marketing have eclipsed the impact of traditional editorial coverage, while the second, What Matters to Millennials, set out to unpack the marketing buzzword “authenticity”—and to learn what creates an authentic brand, according to Millennials.
As America’s top food and beverage companies lose an estimated $4 billion in market share (according to Fortune), the industry is trying to digest this dramatic power shift from trusting consumers to a new, highly engaged demographic.
The Media Habits study found 84 percent of Millennials feel they can easily describe, in one sentence, a food or beverage brand or product they just discovered.
“It’s more important than ever to make sure you are strategic in brand communications from the very beginning. While we found that Millennials are still reading print magazines and newspapers, the key takeaway from the study was the speed at which this generation makes up their minds about a brand,” said Lisa Donoughe, Watershed principal and founder, in a news release. “This generation is forming opinions about brands from the minute they read about them.”
In the What Matters study, 100 percent of the Millennials surveyed said they frequently purchase food and beverage brands they list as authentic. “The authenticity message is massive,” said Alexia Howard, senior U.S. food analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein.
The top five most mentioned authentic food and beverage brands (in order) are:
- Trader Joes
- Kind Bars
- Honest Tea, and
“We were surprised by the millennial definition of authenticity,” said Donoughe. “Millennials want simplicity and consistency—not just small, indie brands.”
Based on the research, Watershed found six key pillars for building an authentic brand: Compassion, Community, Customization, Co-creation, Consistency, and Conviction. In the world of food and beverage, millennials are instantaneous decision makers. A strong messaging and marketing strategy is necessary at every turn.
Source: Watershed Communications; edited by Richard Carufel