Using Food to Understand Deeper Human Truths about Millennials

Millennials-EatingOur love of food is an experience that we all share. Food, however, can also be used to help understand broader generational differences in attitudes and behavior that can impact a company’s marketing effectiveness. In this case, how millennials think, feel and act toward food can help understand how they are different than previous generations and what that means for marketers.

It was thought that conducting a research study using food as an exemplar would help understand broader millennial consumption and shopping behaviors. What was the result? Sure enough, how millennials think, feel and act toward food does help us understand how they differ from previous generations.

How about a few examples?

Take the fact that millennials are portrayed in the media as being adventurous. This is an observation of the generation as one that likes to try new things in general, to try new foods specifically, and to be generally “adventurous” in all that they do. The deeper human truth, however, lies beneath this broader observation. Millennials are actually collectors of experiences. They approach life as an opportunity to collect different experiences to help form their own identity through the collection of experiences built on their personal passions and interests. They are, in fact, “experience collectors.”

Consider for a moment the idea that millennials are portrayed in the media as always “on the go”. This is an observation of the generation as always moving onto the next thing, the next experience, etc. The deeper human truth, however, indicates that millennials are those who seek freedom in their lives. They want control over how they live, how they work, and yes, even how and what they eat. They are in reality “freedom seekers”.

Another example is how the media portrays the millennial generation as anti-mainstream in how they live their lives, what and where they choose to eat, etc. The deeper human truth, however, is that millennials are not so much anti-mainstream as they are future focused. They are looking to improve the world not only for themselves but also for others, and that includes supporting causes they believe in, different food they purchase and eat, etc. They are truly “future focused”.

At the Share. Like. Buy. Conference to be held in Napa Valley on September 29-30 my colleague, Jeff Jones of Curiosity Insights, and I will expand on these findings and share other learning from a recent millennial research study that leveraged a mixed methodology approach. We will discuss how millennial attitudes and behaviors toward food provide insight into the broader understanding of this generation of consumers and shoppers through deeper human truths.