The exact range of years for the millennial generation varies depending on who you ask or which resource you use. It roughly falls into children born between 1977 and 2000. Many view millennials as the generation moving back in with their parents and staying there out of laziness and a lack of motivation. While this is true in some instances, and occurs across all generations, the fact remains that there are about 80 million millennials. They outnumber the baby boomers and there are three times more of them than Generation X. They will eventually make up the bulk of buying customers.
Traditional grocery stores need to keep millennials interested in what they offer to make sure that millennials come back tomorrow, and well into the future. “Millennials are just as comfortable doing their grocery shopping at a Club Store or Amazon as they are at a traditional grocery store,” says Christine Haskins, vice president of customer experience and innovation process consultant at Ideas To Go, a consulting firm specializing in marketing strategies for Fortune 500 companies. The willingness of millennials to explore food options beyond the traditional grocery store means retailers must find ways to not only draw them in to shop and be loyal, but relate to them.
Excitement and Value
According to Ideas To Go research, millennials want their life to be exiting. They’re always looking for new places to visit and experience. Their interest in traveling abroad surpasses any other generation’s by 23 percent. Seventy percent want to visit all seven continents and 75 percent enjoy foods from cultures not their own. Making exciting and culturally diverse options a part of your deli, bakery and foodservice departments will attract millennial shoppers, but the options will not work as well if they’re adjusted versions to cut costs.
An experiential dish or product will get millennials to give your store a chance, and it will keep them coming back for more, but you must make it unique and real, says Susan Robertson, principal and innovation process consultant at Ideas To Go. “Even though most companies understand that ‘experience’ is worth pursuing, many fall into the trap of watering down a unique and Millennial-relevant idea into just another offering that already exists.”
Making a quality, experiential product mesh with your current production capabilities by changing the vision slightly to fit will cause the idea to lose its wow factor. Before spending extra money on a product or service, check with a few millennial customers to make sure you avoid the water down effect, and move forward with the most potent ideas, Robertson says. “For a Millennial consumer, it’s an act of good faith to reach out and listen to what they have to say.”
Value plays an important role to the millennial consumer. The value of a product or service matters a lot to this generation, and they see through attempts at making something appear to have more value than it actually does. “Setting a good price point for a good product will help get your relationship started—and then pave the way for you to nurture it on as these consumers move up financially,” Haskins says. “Focus on value—really take the time to define it, and show what’s in it for them.”
What They Want
Millennials love to both cook and shop for prepared meals that are ready-to-eat. Their sense of adventure and enjoyment of creating in the kitchen bodes well for supermarket delis and bakeries. Their busy, on-the-go lifestyle means that those same millennials who love cooking in the kitchen also love shopping for interesting, ready-to-eat meals prepared by the foodservice department.
A fresh selection of different and ethnic meats and artisan cheeses in the deli and cheese case will attract millennials and keep them coming back for more. In the prepared food department items such as Thai food and sushi remain popular among millennials. Specialty foods from producers that take part in social activism also appeal to the cause-minded millennial.
However, they do have the potential to grow tired of the same selections. Do your best not to let selections grow stagnant. Rather than throwing everything you have to offer, develop a rotation of different products to keep them new and fresh. Do the same with artisan bread offerings.
Provide samples and tastes through instore promotions to get a feel for the products that will work best and sell well. Don’t fear change either. If something isn’t selling well, change up your offerings. Millennials will enjoy the variety rather ;than feel like they can’t get what they’re after. They are an adventurous generation with a taste for different and exciting things. Give them the adventure they seek.