Let’s first start by identifying what makes a millennial. After a quick search on google (the millennial version of extensive research) I was able to find this graph from The Atlantic which puts me somewhere in between a Generation Y-er and millennial. Which is a total relief because I’ve often felt that I don’t fully fit the millennial definition (specifically I don’t Snap Chat!) But according to the Pew Research center I’m 96% a millennial based on my frequency of texting, engaging in electronic media, and tattoos. But that can’t be all it takes to be classified as a millennial can it?
If I had to define my generation, call it millennial if you’d like, we’re independent, over-connected and concerned about health and weight (less about health, more about body image). We were convinced that college was the only way to make good money so as a result we’re all living in massive amounts of post-college debt. Which means we’re living at home longer and more reliant on our parents than previous generations. We love selfies and will probably all have neck problems in our 60’s, a consequence of looking down at our phones all day.
We’re more self-centered, a result of massive amounts of social media and our parents telling us we’re all special. Which we are. Sort of. We’re the generation that’s pseudo politically active when it’s a trending hashtag and the generation that expects instant gratification. Generally speaking, we’re more optimistic about the future, despite the lackluster work force we all graduated into. We’re racially diverse, accepting of people’s differences and less fearful of change than previous generations. And when it comes to millennial snacking we like transparency, healthy (or at least perceived health benefits), fast and convenient.
So now that we know who we are, what is the big deal about millennial snacking? With close to 44 million in the US and a combined spending power of about 1.1 TRILLION dollars, millennials are making their mark on foodservice. As the most health conscious generation in a long time, we care about what we ingest. Which means we try dumb fads like shakes to lose weight and 21 day fixes. Snacking has long been touted as a way to loose weight – lots of smaller meals throughout the day instead of three large meals at their traditional times. So it’s no surprise that we’re big into snacking. Couple that with the fact that we’re the busy generation, and snacks become a convenience over sitting for a full meal. Not to mention, it’s easier to multitask with a snack then to do anything while eating a massive cheese burger (she types while eating a snack of chips and salsa).
According to a recent CSP study, more millennials report snacking four or more times per day compared to baby boomers. Additionally we’re more apt to purchase snacks from places like c-stores, fast food restaurants, supermarkets and drug stores. I can only speak for myself when I say the reasoning for that is convenience. We’re already stopping at the c-store for our can of Red Bull, why not grab a container of hummus and chips to go too? Convenience stores have also dramatically shifted from the gross day old rolled hot dogs to full and fresh prepared options for snacking, and since we are a more trusting generation we’re more willing to try something made in a c-store than our parents.
What else do we look for in snacks? Well, as an increasingly diverse group of people we are looking for more interesting flavors. Buzz words like siracha, chipotle, umami, these are all descriptive words that resonate with the millennial generation. We want flavors that we can identify with, (whatever that means) and we want to try new things. That said, we’re still more interested in cost, as I mentioned most of us have massive debt casting a shadow over every purchase. To catch a millennial’s attention you’ll need to be unique and affordable. When all else fails, call it limited edition and you’ve got a captivated market of millennials who will purchase your product specifically because it’s exclusive and therefor worth of social media flaunting, because YOLO.
I want something high in protein and low in artificial ingredients. Indeed, I’ve been known to compare ingredients on food purchases and put back the item that had ingredients I couldn’t pronounce. It needs to be something I can eat while blogging and it better be affordable. I personally eat a snack for lunch each day (that’s right, I’m a huge snacker) and lately my go to choice has been the individual cups of sabra hummus and pretzels along with a cheese stick, that I purchased at the convenience store down the road from our office.
Now, do I speak for EVERY millennial with my requirements of snacks? gosh I sure hope not. I’d like to think we’re not all the same homogenous group of young adults that we’ve gotten the reputation for being. I’d like to think there are some millennials out there still reading the daily news, making calls on their landline and eating their three balanced meals each day. If you’re reading, my unique millennial friends, feel free to chime in here!! In any case, it’s not so bad being a millennial, that is, for now. Wait until our necks start fusing in a downward position from cell phone overuse... Until next time! Happy snacking folks!