Now Arriving: Gen Z

Millennials, millennials, millennials – so many of our clients are focused on Millennials and how to adapt their marketing strategies to this evolving consumer group. What characterizes them? How are they different? What drives them? As we complete each study and I think we’ve exhausted the conversation, we find ourselves once again pulled into the Millennial vortex. But don’t look now – here comes Gen Z. We have just released our first study on this group, whose habits, thoughts, emotions and more will be keeping marketers up at night next. So why is it important to keep examining a group in context? Why can’t we broad stroke and make blanket statements about consumer groups or generations, and just be done with it?

8 Truths About Gen Z  Download our NEW infographic now

That’s the question posed in this WSJ article. Usually generations are defined by their similar birth years, with spans of 20 years. But often these are fuzzy in setting definitions. Typically, academics and researchers look at ‘generations’ to identify the distinct group’s characteristics which, through comparison with previous generations, serve to measure social and cultural change. But this approach misses the nuances within and between the groups. And the nuances are where the marketing opportunity exists.

Our new Gen Z study looks into the factors driving Gen Z behavior – the fears, concerns, influencers and even the heroes that define this group. We compare and contrast Gen Z and Millennials, both of whom live in a mobile-centric world but view their increasingly, technology- and data-driven existence differently. So just when you thought you had mastered Millennials, it’s time to get to know the new kids on the block. Isn’t Marketing fun? Sure does keep us on our toes!

Gen Z Infographic

Millennials and Nutrition

There is an undeniable allure about BuzzFeed’s Tasty videos that have taken over Facebook in recent months. The flash of color from various ingredients, the mouthwatering sizzle of meats and the perfect organization of spice bowls on a minimalistic background makes it hard to tear your eyes away. Based on these three aspects alone, it makes a whole lot of sense that these videos have become wildly popular on Facebook these days.

However, I found myself confused by their sudden popularity – regardless of how aesthetically pleasing these videos were to the eye. I am surrounded by friends and family who pride themselves on eating a consistently clean, incredibly green diet; the kind of people who would have a full body reaction at the mere mention of eating something that was not plucked from the earth. Yet I found the same people fawning over how delicious and great the Tasty videos were, despite the seemingly endless piles of cheese present in several recipes.

Interestingly enough, watching any Tasty video provides immense insight into Millennial (or Gen Y – take your pick) eating trends and nutritional habits. As a Millennial myself, the Spinach Artichoke Mac & Cheese video was the first Tasty video that caught my attention.

 

 

The combination of all of my favorite things – food, organization and upbeat music – made it difficult to break my attention. I do not particularly enjoy either spinach artichoke dip or mac and cheese, yet I found myself wanting to prepare this dish for myself.

It turns out that Tasty’s enticement factor goes far beyond than its video design.

In a 2015 BuzzBack study, it was noted that the process of eating food was not seen as a means of survival amongst Millennials, but rather as an experience to be had. When prompted to think about “food” and “nutrition,” Millennials first thought about the “food experience,” which is the external projection of self via what they consume upon their peers, then “taste,” and finally “quality.” The actual components – protein, fat content, sugar, calories, etc. – of food, however, were revealed to be secondary thoughts amongst this demographic. This indicates that nutritional eating, while important, is not a primary concern to Millennials.

As noted by the same 2015 BuzzBack study (and perhaps by the behavior of my friends and family as well), Millennials do prize nutrition, but with the occasional indulgence.

 

 Want to learn about how Gen Z views food? Download our 8 Truths About Gen Z infographic and find out.

8 Truths About Gen Z  Download our NEW infographic now

So, what does this have to do with those mouthwatering Tasty videos?

In short, Tasty provides Millennial viewers with the ultimate food experience. With a simple “like” or share of a Tasty video on the Millennial’s social media account, they can indicate to their social sphere the kinds of food they like and what they can prepare. The close-up shots of the Spinach Artichoke Mac & Cheese slowly baking caters to the Millennial need of taste and quality. However, what is absent, but certainly not to the Millennial chagrin, is the nutritional value of each ingredient. It is yet another step for the Millennial viewer to learn about the nutritional value of their meal, which highlights that nutrition has taken the backseat amongst this demographic. This is not necessarily a bad thing, however.

As our 2015 study mentions, a company that is able to seamlessly blend nutrition and indulgence will be in a grand position for success amongst Millennials in the future. Given that Tasty is constantly updating its channel with new recipes and receiving millions of views, likes and shares across several social media platforms, it is safe to say that Tasty has successfully summarized what it means to eat as a Millennial in 2016.

Want to learn more about Gen Z? Our new Gen Z study looks into the factors driving Gen Z behavior – the fears, concerns, influencers and even the heroes that define this group. Download our 8 Truths About Gen Z infographic to learn more.

Millennials & Nutrition

Millennials & Women Are Redefining Leadership

When it comes to the workplace, turns out female and millennial employees want the same thing. According to a study covered in Fortune magazine, both of these employee types seek a healthy work/life blend, a sense of meaning from their work, and transparency. Who knew when I started BuzzBack that these would emerge as defining principles of our own company culture. And, it then comes as no surprise, that our company is 60% women and 40% millennial. This has turned out to be a differentiating strength for us as we study brands – women and millennials are often the target consumers our clients are most interested in.

Another aspect of the study however surprised me. When asked, only a third of both women and millennial responders aspired to the C-suite. The study sponsors, Saba (a talent management firm) and workplacetrends.com, think that this may be due to lack of role models at the top rungs of the corporate ladder. But they also point to a shift in the definition of leadership to one where making an impact at one’s company and developing into a recognized expert and influencer is more important. I’m hoping at BuzzBack we can offer both definitions of leadership – the traditional title-based one, and one where personal and professional goals converge.

As a female business founder, CEO, mentor and mother (of twin college-bound Gen Zers, boy and girl),  I am constantly thinking about what work will look like in the future, and how BuzzBack needs to adapt to continue attracting the brightest talent. I’ll be speaking on female leadership and entrepreneurship at a professional networking event in Philadelphia next week. I’m looking forward to hearing how other business owners and managers are creating workplaces that nurture the next generation of leaders. After all, our futures depend on them.

 

Millennials & Women

Marketing to the Millennial Food Shopper

There’s been a lot of talk about Millennials lately, and with good reason. Millennials currently make up the country’s largest living generation, and by extension, the country’s largest consumer group with $200 billion in annual buying power. This has not gone unnoticed, especially among big name brands. These days it seems that everyone is changing their marketing strategy to appeal to the Millennial consumer – a few months ago, we talked about TGIFridays removing the appetizer choice limits on their Endless Appetizer deal. Now, within the last month, we’ve heard about changes even more companies are making specifically focused on winning over Millennials.

First, marketers noticed the trend that Millennials have been moving away from beer, and choosing wine and spirits as their drink of choice. Frantically, beer companies have tried other tactics in order to win back the Millennial consumer with Anheuser-Busch releasing a spoof on classic cocktails including Bud Light Mixxtails and Bud Light Ritas. So far the canned cocktails have been a hit among Millennials, but only time will tell whether or not Millennials continue this trend or move on to drinking actual cocktails.

Then came the news that Target would be shifting its shelf marketing towards products that Millennials are more likely to buy. Consumers in general are starting to become more health-conscious and focused on buying natural or organic products. So in hopes of appealing to the “urban Millennial” Target is shifting the focus on their processed shelf staples to other items like Greek yogurt and granola. While this doesn’t mean that canned soup and boxed cereal will be completely removed from shelves, Target will be placing the spotlight on these products that today’s Millennial is more likely to buy.

However, the most surprising news was that Whole Foods (or as it’s more commonly called, Whole Paycheck) plans on launching a chain of lower-cost stores geared towards Millennials. While Whole Foods rose in popularity due to its early entrance into the organic grocery store scene, today healthy products can be found at almost any grocery store and at a much cheaper price. So while the demand for natural and organic products has increased, Millennials are still cash-strapped and price-conscious shoppers. The high cost of food at Whole Foods stores has generally been a turn-off for Millennials, but Whole Foods is hoping to gain their market share while at the same time being careful to not break the brand they have built up of “premium prices and premium products.” The stores, which will feature “a modern streamlined design, innovative technology and a curated selection,” are expected to start opening next year. And if prices are actually as reasonable as they are expected to be, you can be sure that this Millennial will definitely be shopping there.

The issue of Millennials being a younger generation and generally being less wealthy than the Boomer Generation is one that should be of particular interest to marketers. Affordability might just be the key to winning over the Millennial food shopper. Not every company can afford to just up and make a whole new chain of stores dedicated to winning over Millennials, however that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to lower the cost of food shopping. In our recent study on Millennials + Food & Nutrition, we briefly discussed how Millennials use a variety of sources for discounts and how over 90% of Millennial shopper use coupons (see clip below). This is something that not only applies to grocery stores, but also restaurants and product companies who also have the ability to control coupon deals. So, while Millennials do keep an eye out on the quality and freshness of goods they are buying, they are also aware of the limits placed on their food budget, and it’s up to marketers to find that balanced sweet spot.

For more information on our Millennials & Nutrition study, get in touch with us below.
mills-blog-post

There’s a Bug in My Soup…On Purpose

When the U.N. declared back in 2013 that we humans should eat more bugs, it was an idea that many couldn’t stomach. This suggestion was made as part of the UN’s larger and quite serious focus on global environmental issues and potential food shortages. And no matter how queasy the notion might make someone, edible insects are rich in protein and sourcing them has low environmental impact. In many parts of the world, bug eating is not some foodie trend, but a way of life. Deep friend insects can be bought from Thai street vendors as easily as a hot dog from a food cart in Manhattan.

National Public Radio recently profiled a Thai entrepreneur looking to bring this favorite street food to the grocery and minimart snack aisle. To woo the uninitiated bug eater, he is relying on familiar chip and crisps flavors like barbecue and cheese, while on-pack messaging promotes the health benefits of the treat inside. Are bug products on their way to becoming the subject of MR explorations of the future? Will BuzzBack soon be leading eCollage studies to determine the best positioning for mealworm larva puffs or cricket breakfast flakes (Try them with milk!). And how would we tackle the concept generation sessions on potential flavors?

It makes one wonder – is the ick factor culturally ingrained? Earlier this year we released a report that explored global attitudes around the idea of Healthy – which included snacking. No one in Russia, Brazil or the U.S. named a single insect to their list of sought after healthy snacks.

That would suggest that Americans probably aren’t quite ready to view bugs tossed in their salad as a welcome addition – this still ranks up there as a legitimate reason to complain to the waiter.  However, American consumers have been enjoying a bug-based additive already – and most are probably not even aware that they are. Chochineal, carmine or carminic acid is a colorant made from crushed South American insects that give many processed foods their red color.

But bugs by choice? It’s going to take some marketing brilliance and powerful positioning to make that idea palatable. And maybe it will be the Millennials who will lead the way on insect cuisine. Our most recent study of their attitudes and behavior when it comes to food & nutrition found them to be more adventurous and willing to try new things. But to be fair, we didn’t specifically ask them if those new things had antennae or ectoskeletons.

To learn more about our Healthy Report or get more information about Millennials & Nutrition, click here.

eating bugs

Are Consumers Growing Sour on Sugar and Sweet on Stevia?

Fat. Carbs. High Fructose Corn Syrup. And now sugar. All nutritional villains in the consumers’ eyes.  In response to this mounting concern, food manufacturers and grocers are taking steps to decrease the amount of sugar in their products.

Some soda manufacturers, having already replaced high fructose corn syrup with regular sugar in some brands, are now vowing to reduce overall sugar content in others. Some are experimenting with sugar and stevia combinations. Supermarket chain Wegman’s is taking steps to reduce added sugar in its store brand products including yogurts, sauces and bakery items. Most recently, General Mills announced it was cutting sugar content by reformulating its Yoplait line of presweetened yogurts.

Why the scramble? Are consumers that concerned about their sugar intake? And what are the acceptable sweetener alternatives? According to our latest Buzzpoll it seems that consumers do care about what goes into their body – 65% specifically mentioned their concern about their sugar intake. Nine out of 10 said they read nutrition labels, with over half reporting that it’s to learn about sugar content.  The majority are willing to use artificial sweeteners or to try natural alternatives to sugar. Over a third are concerned about artificial sweeteners in their beverages. And a large majority said they’d have a positive opinion of a brand that used natural sweeteners rather than an artificial one.

To learn more about how consumers use nutritional info to make food decisions, the sugar substitutes they’re sweet on, and the ones that worry them, click here to see our infographic, Simple & Sweeteners.

Stay tuned for another new infographic coming out soon where we’ll show you findings from our latest Millennials and Nutrition study. HINT: sugar is mentioned there, too!

stevia

Food, Friends, Fun: Courting the Millennial Diner

Have you heard? Endless Appetizers are better and back at TGIFridays. Not on your radar? Maybe because chances are you aren’t part of the most coveted consumer group today, Millennials.

The casual dining chain is just the latest using behavioral lures to fill seats with GenY spenders.  Endless  Apps were a very successful gimmick last year, especially with Millennial diners. This time around, the chain is removing limits on choices – a rule that Millennials found unappealing.

TGIFridays strategy aligns with our recent findings around Millennials and food. Our study shows that food Gen Yers are particularly interested in experimenting with food, creating experiences around dining, and sharing the occasion with others.  By allowing Millennials to customize their meal with friends around small plates is a home run for the chain. 

Is your food, beverage or dining brand clicking with Millennials? Hear the latest insights that could help your positioning and product development efforts in our upcoming webinar, Understanding How Millennials View Food & Nutrition.  We’ll be covering behavior, emotions, influences, and more. Click to register for Tuesday, March 10th or Wednesday, March 11th.

millennials-eating

Love App-tually

Are you ready for the most romantic holiday of the year?  If you’re still looking for love or the perfect way to express how you feel, consider yourself lucky! This season, Love Hearts®, a popular Valentine’s Day staple, will have a few new phrases added to the mix. Fourteen phrases were chosen as part of a contest this year to celebrate the candy’s 60th anniversary and to help them stay up-to-date with how people choose to communicate. Winning phrases – including ‘YOLO,’ ‘Take a Selfie,’ and ‘Swipe Right’ – will definitely help the confection stay current with today’s lingo.

And if you’re just not sure what ‘Swipe Right’ means, allow us to explain. Tinder is a mobile matchmaking app that uses location tracking to show you profile pictures of people in your area. You swipe right if you like what you see, left if you don’t. Among Millennials, Tinder is currently very popular. In fact, our recent Valentine’s Day BuzzPoll found that for one-third of Millennials, Tinder is their most favorite or most used app. They express appreciation for Tinder’s casual approach: it’s easy to meet local match-ups and there is a large variety of men/women to browse through – unsurprising, given the app’s current popularity.

OKCupid, eHarmony, Plenty of Fish, and Coffee Meets Bagel are also deemed Millennial favorites in our study. You might be asking, how do Millennials choose which matchmaking service is right for them?  We found that unique reasons for preference started to surface for each app. For example, OKCupid is preferred for its user-friendly interface and for being easy to use and understand. Long-term relationship seekers appear to gravitate towards eHarmony, with a handful saying their system is realistic – asking detailed questions before matching you up – and users feel it has the most potential for success.

We also found that the majority of apps mentioned are favored for being free. Then it got us wondering, how are these online dating sites making money? A little digging helped us discover that while most of these matchmaking apps and websites provide free options, they currently generate revenue through a combination of brand advertising and paid upgrades or memberships. Like most websites and apps, Tinder is completely free – except for a new, less popular option called Tinder Plus. Both options have  yet to allow brands to openly use their app for advertising purposes; and, with its widely popular status among Millennials, this is making some brands a bit anxious.

Earlier last year, Tinder employed experimental advertising through profiles for Domino’s Pizza and the U.S. TV show, “The Mindy Project.” Most recently, Gillette teamed up with Tinder to test out the theory that ladies prefer men with well-maintained facial hair (as opposed to unkempt beards). However, this approach was not considered traditional advertising and was not purchased through ad inventory on the Tinder platform.

While Tinder keeps toying with the idea of raking in advertising revenue, it has yet to settle on a strategy. So for all those brands out there that may want to strike up a relationship with Tinder in hopes of getting in front of the Millennial audience, you’ll just have to wait. Tinder’s just not that into you… yet.

For more info, click here or scroll below to see how Millennials these days are using online dating apps to find ‘Love App-tually.’

 

Photo credit: Love Hearts®

 

BuzzBack BuzzPoll Millennials Valentines Day FINAL

Swipe-Right

Dining Trends in the Age of Millennials

Are Millennials behind the demise of fast food as we know it? Or to borrow from Mark Twain, are the reports of McDonald’s death greatly exaggerated? If you’ve been reading the financial news, McDonald’s seems to be in trouble – the theories abound as to why. Some point an accusatory finger at Millennials.

We have already written about the challenges of consumer product companies and fast casual establishments in capturing the taste buds of the coveted consumer group born between 1981-2000: Millennials. Their habits and preferences are shaking things up across multiple categories. Gen Y seems to increasingly favour companies like Chipotle and Panera, as well as Shake Shack and Five Guys. What’s notable is that all of these are part of the “fast casual” dining trend.

So what’s the link between Millennials and this trend? We recently conducted a study of Millennials and their attitudes about nutrition, and we are presenting at the Food & Drink Innovation Network conference in London.  Our study finds that taste, quality and experience matter tremendously to the Gen Y consumer – all hallmarks of the “fast casual”.

To Millennials, overall nutrition is important, and they want fast food to be healthier and better quality. While they are active and conscientious grocery shoppers, they do allot a significant portion of their budget to eating out. That means there’s significant opportunity for restaurant marketers to capture share of wallet.

To receive an executive brief of our Millennials & Nutrition findings, click here. And watch this space for the webinar on the subject in March.

Millennials dining trends

Connecting to Couple Up

According to a study conducted by Edible Arrangements in 2014, it appears that Millennials have limited interest and investment in Valentine’s Day – finding it less romantic and more inclusive of friends and family. In recent years, the holiday has become seemingly more platonic than sentimental. However, with the Internet boom and rise of social media platforms, this group has the capability and means to connect with others quickly, and – do we dare say – even personally.

It is no surprise then, that a generation so fixated and dependent on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, has turned to dating sites/apps for when they are looking for that romantic connection. So much so, that these apps have gained a noticeable amount of popularity. We at BuzzBack were curious to see which mobile dating apps reigned among the digital savvy, so we asked 200 single, U.S. Millennials to find out where they go to look for “love”.

One interesting stat we found? At least 4 in 10 Millennials have used Tinder, OkCupid, Match.com, and/or eHarmony before, with nearly one-third saying that Tinder is their favorite or most used app. Interestingly, Millennials chose their favorite apps based on ease of use, convenience, and efficiency rather than success rates. So while Millennials overall are supposedly less romantic on February 14th, perhaps finding love via digital means has changed their perception of this “Hallmark holiday”.

Want to learn more from this study? Stay tuned for the full infographic from this year’s Valentine’s Day BuzzPoll!

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