No one knows more about how people eat than The NPD Group. For decades now, we’ve been the definitive source of information on food and beverage consumption, whether at home or away-from-home. Snacks-on-the-go? Lunch at the drive-thru? Dinner with the family? We track them all.
We monitor a wide range of critical food industry trends and track consumer behavior, attitudes, and usage motivators – from diet and nutrition to food safety and brand awareness.
The smartest companies in the food and beverage industry depend on our information, insights, and expertise to understand what consumers are actually eating and drinking. In addition to providing this unique information, we can combine our data with your information or third-party data to help you solve specific, difficult business issues.
National Eating Trends
National Eating Trends® (NET®) monitors thousands of individuals’ eating habits each year to provide a complete view of food and beverage consumption in the U.S. This information goes far beyond supermarket scanner and purchase panel data to focus on consumers’ actual eating situations. For nearly 30 years, NET has captured preparation and consumption situations for foods and beverages, reporting on who consumes particular food and beverage products, when and where they consume them, and how they are consumed. This information can be used in research and new product development as well as in marketing mature brands.
SnackTrack® is the go-to source for U.S. snack food consumption information. SnackTrack’s ongoing consumer data collection presents a complete picture of snack and convenience foods to help you understand critical trends in behavior, attitudes, and usage. It captures who, when, where, why, and how specific snack-oriented foods and brands are consumed, and examines situational and motivational dynamics that affect snack food consumption. Leading snack and convenience food manufacturers rely on SnackTrack to provide insight beyond conventional purchase databases.
Examine the top-of-mind dieting and health issues facing consumers today. Dieting Monitor helps companies understand dieting patterns, perceptions of dieting and health, and the influence these factors have on consumers. It also reports on awareness of and participation in specific diets, including all of the programs consumers and the media talk about most.
Food Safety Monitor
Understand the strong influence consumers’ food safety concerns can have on your business and your industry. Equipping your company with a clear view of consumers’ food safety worries, this tracking tool provides unprecedented insight into consumers’ food safety concerns, food safety knowledge, and future eating intentions, allowing for strong and strategic decision making.
International Food & Beverage Habits
Get a complete view of consumers’ food and beverage habits, both in-home and away, in Brazil, Russia, India, Mexico, and China (“BRIMC” countries). This report reveals the structure of eating and drinking occasions throughout the day and how food and beverage categories fit into those occasions. Based on a consistent survey methodology across these emerging markets and the U.S., this study delivers the insight needed to uncover the most promising opportunities for food and beverage marketers.
This inventory of American kitchens represents a key “ingredient” in recipe development. Since its inception in 1993, The NPD Group’s Kitchen Audit study has offered food and housewares manufacturers a comprehensive profile of the foods, beverages, appliances, cookware, utensils, and other cooking materials kept on hand in American home kitchens. It also identifies who uses recipes and where they source them from.
NET Hispanic Study
Explore eating habits of Hispanic consumers, both at home and away from home. The study reveals new details about the cooking, eating, and dining behaviors of Hispanics in the U.S. It also explores the many segments of the U.S. Hispanic population and their unique characteristics and needs that influence food behaviors, including detail on U.S. Hispanics by country of origin, acculturation, language, and first/second/third generations.
You have opportunities. You face threats. What you need are smart, quantifiable methods of distinguishing one from the other and maximizing your chances of success. NPD’s Analytic Solutions Group includes a team of senior leaders with extensive experience developing and delivering analytic solutions that address strategic marketing, sales, and planning issues.
We combine NPD POS and consumer information, industry expertise, and custom survey research… then add state of the discipline research techniques and methodologies to explain the “why behind the buy”. Through advanced modeling and analytic services, we offer insight into what will happen in the future, not just what has happened in the past, answering your most pressing business questions:
- What consumer segments should we target and why? How do we know if we’re successful over time?
- Which products are hot? How should we respond?
- What’s the sales potential and ROI for my new / revamped product idea?
- What is the optimal feature combination for my product?
- How do I monitor my performance in my sales territories, distribution areas, etc.?
- Should we raise or lower prices? By how much? To what end?
- Will my product category grow or decline? Why? What does this mean for my market share?
- What’s the competitive landscape and where are my best opportunities (Food)?
- What levers should we pull to increase sales and market share?
- Why are some of our stores performing better than others?
- Why do consumers choose our brand? Our competitors’ brands?
- How effective is our advertising? How can we improve it?
- What products should we develop?
- What products should we sell?
- How can we optimize assortment based on local market dynamics?
- What people should we target? Why?
- How do we know if we are successful over time?
See how clients have used our analytic solutions to solve their business challenges in our Analytic Solutions Case Study Library.
In the food and beverage industry, foresight about the future of how people will eat and drink and deep insight about what they’re doing right now can make all the difference to your growth trajectory. This year we’ve dug deeper than ever before into our unique data assets and industry expertise. The result? An unparalleled look at actual consumption behavior and how it’s changing, both at home and away from home. You can use the Annual Report on Eating Patterns in America to determine which emerging behavior patterns will help drive your business and identify new market opportunities.
Meal kit delivery services like Blue Apron and Plated have garnered a small, but seemingly dedicated, segment of enthusiasts in the U.S. Are these kits a passing fad, or is this a trend worth watching? Our new report, Thinking Inside the Box: A Fresh Look at Meal Kit Delivery Services, combines findings of our own custom study with ongoing NET® consumer tracking research, insights from our Checkout Tracking solution, and industry expertise. It uncovers answers to your pressing questions about this new player in your market.
Find out how the food and beverage consumption of key generations – Gen Z, Millennials, and Boomers – is set to change as these groups move through life stages. Our new report, A Generational Study: The Evolution of Eating, reveals whether their patterns will be similar to, or different from, those of previous generations. It’s how to develop marketing strategies and make long-range plans that position your business for growth.
The boundary between foods eaten between and during meals continues to blur, but now you can get clear answers to your most pressing questions about snack foods and between-meal consumption. Our Snacking in America report provides deep insight into consumer behavior to help you answer the question, “What’s the future of snacking?”. Partnering with CultureWaves, the Snacking in America report now has an added layer of qualitative behavioral insights, giving perspective and real time evidence about the evolution of snacking in America.
Beverages have shown waning popularity over the past several years, with sales declining by 4 percent since 2010. The industry expected an improving economy would bump up beverage orders. In fact, it seems consumers’ thirst for beverages at foodservice is not bouncing back. How can you give beverages a boost? Our new Satisfying Our Thirst for Beverages Report evaluates consumers’ beverage choices to determine why they order one beverage over another, what’s behind outlet choices when it comes to beverages, how beverage variety factors into their decisions, and more.
Now you can determine whether targeting clean eaters is the right move for your business. Our new report, How Consumers Define Clean Eating, sizes the clean eating market, profiles the consumers engaged in clean eating, and reveals how primary grocery shoppers shop for foods that fit into this emerging lifestyle. You can use the report’s deep data and expert insights to understand consumer awareness of this trend and consumers’ ideas of what clean eating means.
Nutrition Facts Label Overhaul Plan Comes at a Time When Fewer U.S. Consumers Are Looking at the LabelWith a vote of support from First Lady Michele Obama, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently announced its plans to overhaul the Nutrition Facts label on the back of packaged foods. The announcement comes at a time when the percent of U.S. consumers who actually read the Nutrition Facts label is declining, reports The NPD Group, a leading global information company. A decade ago 15 percent of consumers said that they do not look at the label and now 24 percent don’t, according to NPD’s ongoing food consumption research.
A Mix of Generational, Life Stage, and Aging Influences Will Inform the Future of Eating in the U.S.Turns out that not all Millennials, Boomers, Gen Xs or Zs are created equal when it comes to eating behaviors, finds The NPD Group, a leading global information company. Age, ethnicity, life stage, and values also influence current and future eating behaviors, based on a recently released NPD study that leverages 30 years of actual consumption data to quantitatively determine what is myth and reality about eating patterns among the generations.
The behaviors of the Millennial generation have been highly analyzed and studied, so it shouldn’t be surprising to hear this group prefers fresh foods and beverages and favors healthy snack food choices. The unanswered question until now has been whether these behaviors are attributable to life stage or if they are generational shifts that will carry through the rest of their lives.
Americans have been told for the last 30 years they should consume more vegetables, with little movement from consumers on that initiative. Marketers have attempted to make vegetables more enticing with dips and other additions, but increasing vegetable consumption has been an elusive goal. What’s shifting is where people source vegetables in the grocery store. Our National Eating Trends® data shows nearly half of the vegetables eaten in the 1980s came from the fresh aisle of the store; that has grown to about 60 percent more recently. It’s apparently a zero-sum shift as consumers move away from frozen and canned forms of vegetables in favor of fresh – while keeping their total vegetable consumption levels steady.
We’ve observed that Millennials are a big reason why fresh consumption has been increasing overall, but can we attribute that increase to where they are in their lives? Our new report, A Generational Study: The Evolution of Eating, says Millennials’ shifts reflect a fundamental change in the way they prioritize fresh foods, emphasizing fresh over other forms. When looking at fresh consumption among individuals under the age of 40, it’s happening in greater numbers than it did among their predecessors 10 years ago. We see the opposite dynamic for those older than 40.
Millennials’ consumption of more fresh foods isn’t the whole explanation for their increased usage. Another key dynamic for fresh foods is that people tend to consume more of them as they age. We should expect this to continue for Millennials as well, who are already consuming more fresh foods than those at the equivalent life stage 10 years ago, but Boomers have hit a life stage when people typically consume the most fresh items in their lives. Despite the fact that Boomers aren’t consuming fresh foods in the same quantities as previous generations did at their age, the sheer size of their group is large enough to continue driving fresh consumption higher.
Source: The NPD Group/National Eating Trends® (NET®), Years Ending February
food defined as fresh fruit, vegetables, refrigerated meats, poultry, fish, and
End dish and additive/ingredient uses
Changing snack food consumption is another hot topic, but the drivers of change differ from what’s driving growth in fresh foods and beverages. Looking at snack foods consumed during snack occasions, Millennials do not appear to be outliers. The changes we’re observing there are mostly attributable to overall increases with each generation as well as the natural tendency to snack more often with age.
To learn more about generational versus life stage shifts in consumption contact email@example.com.
Every journalist and student in America knows the so-called five Ws: who, what, when, where, and why. It turns out the same five Ws are also the most basic forms of consumer segmentation.
But relationships among the five Ws of shopping are a bit more complex than they are among the five Ws of writing. And the tales they tell are illuminating.
We shared online and brick-and-mortar, receipt-based data from our Checkout TrackingSM service with researchers from the Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania. The study revealed the what and the why of consumer purchases are linked to the when of consumers’ lifestyles. In other words, when people have babies, they buy baby things. But the how and where of purchases are tied to who a consumer is by generation.
Even when the other four Ws are the same, it’s who we are – Boomer, Gen X, or Millennial – that makes all the difference.
Health plays a major role in influencing what we choose to eat, including at snacking occasions, but depending on the time of day, health can have little to do with the foods and beverages we consume. With snacking being all the rage in the food industry, it’s important to know why and when consumers are reaching for your products.
We’ve all had days when we get home from a tough day at work or had a stressful day and one of the last things on our minds is the nutritional content of the foods or beverages we’re about to consume. Starting around 8:00 p.m., sweet snacks such as candy, chocolates, and ice cream are consumed more than any other type of snack. Snack foods with better-for-you claims in particular perform poorly during these late-in-the-day hours. Our National Eating Trends® (NET®) shows we’re highly motivated by treating or rewarding ourselves when eating at these hours, which shows how emotionally involved we are with sweets.
In today’s consumer market, sugars are now number-one on the list of what we try to avoid in our diets, and while that’s true, it would seem it’s more true the earlier we get in the day. Later in the day is when we connect with foods on a more emotional level and eat foods based more on how they help our moods. Marketers often wonder if they should reformulate their products to use sugar alternatives in order to attract consumers during earlier day parts. Since consumers have strong emotional ties to these products, coupled with the fact that they are looking for more natural or “clean” ingredients, it appears the best course of action is to win with consumers when they are most willing to consume the sweet foods they already love.
Morning is the time when we have the best of intentions for the day. It’s almost as if there is a blank slate and we have a chance to make things right for ourselves — the motivations behind the foods we choose reflect this. Morning motivations are about health and satiety; consumers see this as a chance to ingest certain nutrients they seek or look for items that can tide them over to the next meal. During these timeframes consumers eat fruit, yogurt, bars, and cottage cheese. As we go into the afternoon, many of these same motivations are in play, but we also see the rise of savory snack foods such as potato chips, pretzels, meat snacks, and nuts, many of which are consumed alongside main meals, or once again to help keep the consumer satisfied until the next main meal.
The who, what, when, where, and why all play into the decision-making process consumers employ for their snack foods.
To learn more about what motivates consumers and how that changes throughout the day, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
10 Ways Younger and Older Millennials Shop Differently
The retail world is obsessed with Millennials.
It wouldn’t be a normal day if newsletters, tweets, and the media didn’t overflow with headlines on the latest Millennial trend, how to “harness” their alleged power, or how to reach this malleable and unpredictable segment.
Who are these Millennials? Do a quick Google search, and you’ll learn they’re foodies. Social media savants. Selfie experts. Experience seekers. Value hunters. Convenience junkies. Savvy shoppers. They’re “authentic.”
In demographic terms, they’re people between the ages of 18 and 34 who reached young adulthood around the year 2000.
But Millennials don’t like to be stereotyped as Millennials. We get it, Ryan Seacrest—they’re tired of being generalized into a broad demographic box and find the label patronizing. They just want to be treated as unique individuals.
When it comes to the wide-spanning age bracket, they do have a point—the difference between life in your late teens and life in your early 30s is pretty substantial. Do 18-year-old you and 34-year-old you want the same things, behave in the same way, or buy the same stuff?
With this in mind, we decided to divide the group into two smaller segments for study: younger and older Millennials. We set out to learn how these groups differ, both attitudinally and behaviorally, in their retail choices. We learned a lot, like the fact that older Millennials over-index in loyalty apps. And younger Millennials shop more at department stores.
If you’re a retailer or manufacturer looking to better understand the complexities of these highly-coveted sub-segments across the retail and foodservice spaces,
The Gen Y Gold Rush
Before we dive into retail specifics, let’s review an economic reality to set the context: U.S. Millennials haven’t had it so easy. Coming of age during the Great Recession, 13.8 percent of those 18-29 are unemployed or out of the workforce, far above the national jobless rate of 5.1 percent. And they’re a “boomerang” generation—33 percent stay at home with their families and fewer live independently. (Who can blame them? Seven out of 10 college grads from 2014 have a student loan, owing an average of $28,950 per borrower.)
But debt and other deterrents haven’t kept Millennials from buying things.
Any obsession with the Millennial demographic—also known as Gen Y—is with good reason. U.S. Millennials outnumber Baby Boomers by nearly 10 percent, surpassing them as the nation’s largest living generation in 2015, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. They’re estimated to reach $1.4 trillion in annual spending by 2020—roughly one-third of all retail spending. So retailers and manufacturers need Gen Y’s share of wallet to increase their market share. And this dependence will only intensify as Boomers continue to age and the Millennial segment gains purchasing power. Frankly, if you’re a retailer who’s not focused on this budding segment, we’re seriously concerned. (Please call us immediately and we’ll help.)
Given that Millennials are such an expansive, diverse group, our Chief Industry Analyst Marshal Cohen reminds us that there are many ways to divide up this set for study; segmentation by age is just one way to showcase their differentiated spending. But make no mistake about it: age really does matter. As consumers navigate through shifts in life stage, it reflects back in their purchasing behavior.
When we divide the group into two segments (ages 18-24 and 25-34), there are already some major demographic differences to note. For one, older Millennials are more educated and have a higher income, shown by data collected by our partner, CivicScience. But with more than one-third of 18- to 24-year-olds still in college, they can’t be expected to have the same level of education or earning power. Older Millennials are less racially diverse and are primarily white (74 percent compared to 68 percent of young Millennials). A greater percentage of young Gen Yers are single/never married (80 percent compared to 44 percent of older Millennials), fewer are married (only 10 percent compared to 40 percent of older Millennials), and fewer parent a child (10 percent compared to 40 percent of the old Gen Y segment).
The two groups think and behave differently, too. Younger Millennials are more optimistic about the state of our economy. They’re less likely than their older counterparts to think Donald Trump would make a good president, and more likely to see the new “Star Wars” movie. Younger Millennials are more likely to applaud Bernie Sanders’ performance in the first Democratic debate. And they eat granola with a higher frequency than their elder Millennial brethren.
So how do these differences play out on the retail floor? Here are 10 ways the groups differ in their shopping behavior:
1. Young Gen Y Specialize in Beauty
We studied the receipts of 8,766 Millennials through our Checkout TrackingSM service, following the purchases they made during the first half of 2015, both online and offline. This revealed younger Millennials devoted a greater share of spend to specialty beauty retailers compared to the total Gen Y population. The younger set significantly over-indexed at retailers like Lush, meaning they are more likely than the senior Gen Y group to visit a specialty beauty retailer when they need new concealer or mascara.
But there were also some “neutral” beauty brands that earned consistent share of wallet across the Millennial age bracket. Both Gen Y groups devoted about 20 percent share of beauty spend to Bath & Body Works and 22 percent share to Sephora. The only specialty beauty retailers where older Millennials significantly over-indexed compared to their younger comrades were The Body Shop and bareMinerals.
But it’s not all about specialty shops when it comes to cosmetics. In an online poll of 15,031 U.S. adults conducted from January 2014 through January 2015 through our partner CivicScience, we asked respondents where they buy most of their makeup and cosmetics. The result? Millennials do the majority of this shopping (49 percent) at superstores like Walmart, Target, and Costco—a greater share compared to that of the total U.S. adult population (45 percent). And younger Millennials demonstrate a slightly greater affinity for superstore makeup than older Millennials.
When it comes to how Millennials shop for beauty products, their purchasing behavior is pretty consistent throughout the segment, but there are also some differences. Our Shopper Engagement survey fielded in August 2015 showed Millennials old and young are equally likely to browse in store and buy in store (58 percent). Younger Millennials are more likely than older Millennials to browse and buy online (20 percent vs. 17 percent), less likely to browse online and buy in store (14 percent vs. 15 percent), and less likely to browse in store and buy online (8 percent vs. 10 percent).
"With so many retailers and brands trying to court this segment, it becomes very competitive and challenging to win share of younger Millennials’ discretionary, hard-to-come-by spending"
2. Young Millennials Shop More Specialty Apparel
The Millennial segments demonstrated the biggest discrepancy when we looked at share of wallet devoted to specialty apparel stores. Young Gen Yers like shopping in specialty stores for specific items, devoting 3.2 percent share of wallet to this retail channel, compared to older Millennials’ 2.1 percent share and the total adult population’s 1.9 percent share, shown by Checkout Tracking receipt data.
Marshal Cohen thinks reaching younger Millennials requires laser-like focus. “With so many retailers and brands trying to court this segment, it becomes very competitive and challenging to win share of younger Millennials’ discretionary, hard-to-come-by spending”, he explains. Millennials want to shop and play at places that market their products directly to them. If they feel you’re “for real,” or in other words, not only including them, but genuinely speaking directly to them—they will be more inclined to shop with you.
Specialty fashion retailers are the perfect example. We took a deep dive into data on some of these top retailers to see at which specific retailers younger Millennials over-indexed compared to more senior Millennials over a 12-month period. One look at the over-indexing stores on this list, and you’ll see just how these specialty stores fared with the younger Millennial.
Here we see very clearly how young Gen Yers spend a significantly lower share of their apparel spend at children’s retailers (Carter’s and The Children’s Place) compared to the older Millennial segment. The data reflects young Gen Yers’ preference for stores like Hollister and American Eagle over places like Ann Taylor and Banana Republic.
What we found particularly significant was the fact that two of the most neutral apparel retailers—Lululemon and The North Face—earned similar wallet share among Millennials of all ages, demonstrating activewear’s ability to transcend ages 18 to 34.
But Department Stores Aren’t Dead
Given younger Millennials’ affinity for specialty apparel retailers, perhaps we can understand Macy’s decision to mimic this specialty/boutique feel by opening a basement floor dedicated entirely to the younger consumer (Gen Z and young Millennials), only showcasing the brands most relevant to this age group.
But it is important to note that across the entire channel, Millennials of all ages devote a greater share of wallet to department store spend than the rest of the U.S. adult population. And younger Millennials are also more likely than older Millennials to have shopped at department stores. While the younger group is more likely to have shopped at Nordstrom, the older group is more likely to have shopped at Sears.
Interestingly, while younger and older Millennials differ in their likelihood to have shopped at Nordstrom (26 percent vs. 15 percent), the likelihood of the groups to have shopped at Nordstrom Rack, the fashion retailer’s off-price subsidiary, is not as polarizing (25 percent versus 22 percent respectively). Though less significant, younger Millennials are slightly more likely to have shopped at Marshall’s, while both age groups are equally likely to have shopped at TJMaxx.
3. Younger Millennials Are Sportier
Though activewear share of spend is consistent across the Millennial spectrum, budding Millennials are more likely than older ones to have shopped at sporting goods stores (29 percent vs. 20 percent reported to have shopped at one in the past year). The differences were significantly pronounced at REI (49 vs. 16 percent). There were also marked differences at footwear retailers Nike (40 vs. 19 percent) and Finish Line (32 vs. 19 percent).
So does this mean younger Millennials are more active than their older counterparts? Our Sports Industry Analyst Matt Powell shed light on this question. “I’ve been talking a lot about viewing the generational changes on a spectrum (from the oldest Boomer to the youngest Gen Zer), rather than as distinct and dramatic changes,” he explained. For example, Boomers are mostly white, conservative, less technically inclined, lavish, and not particularly focused on health or fitness. In contrast, Gen Z is less white, liberal, tech-reliant, frugal, and very health/fitness focused. And Millennials fit somewhere in between on this spectrum.
“So when we think of changes moving along a spectrum over time, it is logical that younger Millennials behave somewhat differently than older ones, and in this case—have a greater focus on fitness and health,” Matt explains.
That’s not to mention that as older Millennials buy homes and start families, they spend less money on themselves (and less on things like sports equipment), while the younger Gen Yers do not yet have those financial obligations.
4. Younger Millennials Eat Healthier, Cook Less, and Shop Wholesale
When it comes to the food and beverages they order, younger Millennials are more likely than older Millennials to look for benefits they can obtain by eating healthier, seeking items that provide energy, are filling, reduce stress, and build muscle. These are messaging opportunities for building a younger Millennial customer base.
In addition, young Gen Yers are more adventurous than older generations in their food choices, with 47 percent of younger versus 40 percent of older Millennials claiming to choose something new (compared to only 34 percent or less for older generations). And younger Millennials have other considerations when trying something new. For example, convenience is at the top of the list. Items that are quick to order, prepare, and consume with easy portability and little mess satisfy this need.
An analysis of data from CREST®, our flagship restaurant and foodservice information service, found the Millennial segment experienced the greatest decline in restaurant visits of any generation from 2007 to 2014. This decline was greatest among the older Millennial segment (the group more likely to have kids under age 13 in the household). And if you’ve ever been responsible for a child at a restaurant who is having a meltdown or making a concoction out the table condiments, you get it. Not to mention the impact of having more mouths to feed; the relatively cheaper expense of eating at home was the primary reason for the decline in visits among older Millennials. Healthy eating concerns also played an integral role in the decision to eat at home.
Older Millennials are also more into cooking than are younger Millennials, with just over half of the older segment saying they love or like to cook. It may be easier to attract younger Millennials back to restaurants because they are not as tied to cooking at home.
Last month Whole Foods revealed it will open a line of grocery stores specifically targeting the Millennial shopper. These smaller stores will offer curated, limited selections of products at value prices. While research indicates Millennials do like to specialize, our Checkout Tracking receipt data indicates an affinity for wholesale clubs across this segment. When it comes to at-home food purchasing, younger and older Millennials devoted the greatest share of wallet to wholesale clubs Costco and Sam’s Club, and were similarly likely to have shopped at each grocer. Younger Millennials over-indexed at BJ’s and Publix, but under-indexed at Safeway.
"When it comes to accessories, younger Millennials are not the robust market one would think they are..."
5. Young Gen Yers Devote Less Spend to Accessories
Accessories are growing fastest among the Millennial segment. These consumers are responsible for the greatest share of the category’s purchases, with spending up 15 percent from one year ago. Younger Millennials, however, under-index (compared to total Millennials) in the share of wallet they devote to this category. We found this stat surprising, so we asked our Chief Industry Analyst, Marshal Cohen for his thoughts on the trend.
“When it comes to accessories, younger Millennials are not the robust market one would think they are,” Marshal explains. “Traditional thinking has younger Millennials spending more on accessories, as they tend to be more affordably priced than apparel items. But with less discretionary funds, young Millennials need to be very picky about what and when they buy. Spending across a wider scope of ‘necessities’ like phones, data plans, and even food competes for young Millennial spending on experiences—and that means things like accessories will fall short on the priority list for spending.”
6. Older Millennials Use More Loyalty Apps
Older Millennials are more likely than younger Millennials to be a member of a retailer’s loyalty program. But one surprising trend is that older Millennials are more likely than tech-reliant younger Millennials to have at least one retailer’s app downloaded on their mobile device (48 percent vs. 33 percent). The older group is also more likely to frequently use the downloaded app (46 percent often use their app to browse, look for product information, or shop compared to 38 percent of young Millennials). Older Gen Yers substantially over-indexed for use of mobile apps from Target, Walmart, CVS, Dollar General, eBay, Rite-Aid, Best Buy, Gamestop, and Costco.
7. Millennial Youth Need Less Stuff and Shop Less in Store
Younger Millennials are more likely than older Millennials (28 percent vs. 23 percent) to say they have shopped at brick-and-mortar stores less often than last year, primarily because they don’t need to buy as much as they used to (41 percent). This is also a factor of Millennials’ attraction to experiences, and their desire to do more and buy less.
Older Millennials are more likely than younger Millennials to shop less at brick-and-mortars because they cannot afford to shop as much as they used to (32 percent vs. 25 percent)—perhaps a reflection of the financial demands of parenting.
Both groups are similarly likely to have shopped at Amazon and to be members of their loyalty program, though younger Millennials are more likely to be familiar with Amazon as a place to buy consumer electronics. Older Millennials are more likely to have shopped at direct mail/e-commerce sites like eBay.
When it comes to shopping for apparel, younger Millennials are more likely than older Millennials to browse in store and buy in store (62 percent vs. 51 percent), but less likely to browse online and then buy in store (10 percent vs. 16 percent). Younger Millennials are also less likely than older ones to browse in store and buy online (8 percent vs. 14 percent).
8. Younger Gen Yers Are More Adam Levine, Older Are More Metallica
Our BrandLink® solution reports that if you’re looking for a celebrity endorsement that would appeal to Millennials of all ages, B.o.B. and JT are your guys (that’s Bobby Ray Simmons, Jr. and Justin Timberlake to all you non-Millennials). Both would be good fits to target younger Millennials (index 225 and 132 respectively) and older Millennials (index 167 and 137 respectively).
If you want to home in on younger Millennials, Adam Levine and Daniel Radcliffe are good choices (index 138 and 134 respectively), but they could miss the mark for older Millennials.
Only trying to target older Gen Y consumers? Metallica and Guns N’ Roses would fit the bill (index 130 and 121 respectively), but might not have the same recognition, let alone impact, with young Gen Yers.
9. Older Millennials Buy More Kids’ Stuff
Younger Millennials under-indexed compared to the total Millennial segment in child-related categories: baby products and toys. Specifically, older Millennials are more likely to have shopped at Babies R Us, The Children’s Place, Toys R Us, and Party City. This isn’t surprising, since the 18-24 segment is less likely than the 25-34 segment to parent a child. And in today’s day and age, baby photos don’t really start to take over your Facebook or Instagram feeds until you hit your mid-to-late-20s.
The same trend applies to pet products: older gen Yers are more likely than Millennial youngsters to have shopped at pet stores like PetSmart and Petco.
10. Older Millennials Have More Home-Related Expenses
We know it might sound shocking, but younger Millennials also under-indexed in home improvement, appliances, tools, and home textile purchases. Older Millennials are more likely to have shopped at home hardware stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s in addition to home specialty stores like Bed Bath and Beyond, Crate and Barrel, West Elm, and Pottery Barn. But, really—no surprises here. What 20-year-old do you know who is remodeling her new home, buying a fancy KitchenAid, investing in a state-of-the-art power saw, or ordering a new line of linens? Let’s face it, whether you’re in school or starting your first job, it’s all about scrounging up repurposed furniture from older family and friends or simply sticking with mom and dad for a few more years until you get your feet on the ground. And when young Millennials finally do uproot themselves, typically this means moving to an urban environment where there are more jobs and inhabiting smaller, rented, and/or shared homes that require fewer furniture expenses.
Older and Younger Millennials: Two Distinct Segments
In the world of market research, people aged 18-34 are typically grouped into one giant segment for study. But they do not share the same experiences, think, or act the same. Half the group grew up on Britney Spears, the other on Justin Bieber. Some grew up with Facebook in middle school, while the rest didn’t create an account until after having their first child. Moreover, this 16-year span represents a pivotal coming-of-age period, and the differences between the oldest and youngest Millennial can be great, as evidenced by our top 10 list. It’s time to start treating these segments as two distinct groups, to better get to know them and to speak to them directly if we want to earn their precious spending power.
Insights and Opinions from our Analysts and Experts
I’ve often wondered if I could convince Grubhub Seamless to give me equity in the company given the number of times I use their service. I probably order food for delivery from the internet too often so I decided to take a different path. I’m still using the internet but this time I’m using a meal delivery kit.
A friend already uses Plated so she sent me a link to get my first complimentary box. Just like at meetings in the office, free food is a great motivator! The selection process was fairly easy and I was even able to make slight recipe adjustments that fit my tastes. Everything arrived as planned and I was even impressed with how little packaging was required. All the ingredients were separated by the appropriate recipe and everything still looked fresh despite having been on a delivery truck.
Now the real test – how easy was it to prepare and how did it taste? Well, I still had to do a fair amount of chopping, slicing, and preparation, but the key convenience of the service is that I didn’t have to make a trip to the grocery store. In some areas of the country, going to the grocery store is merely a chore, but in New York City it’s a nightmare with long checkout lines (and sometimes lines to enter the store), crowded aisles, frequent out-of-stock items, all on top of having to take the Subway to get your items home. A little chopping and preparation is a small price to pay here for avoiding the shopping experience. The recipe was easy to follow with pictures to show me exactly how it should look when I’m done with each step. In about an hour, my zucchini lasagna was finished and, I have to say, quite tasty.
The plan I used for Plated costs $72 per week, and each box has three meals that feed two people. If you do the math that comes out to $12 per person per meal and for me that’s a bargain! It costs much less than going out to dinner, ordering for delivery and is probably only slightly more than going to the grocery store to get the ingredients. I fully understand, however, that prices where I live are higher than the rest of the country (and don’t get me started on Hamilton tickets).
At NPD we recently conducted a study on consumers using these services and one of the most interesting findings was that the majority of users said had they not prepared a meal from the kit they would have made another meal from their homes. In other words, meal kits are mostly replacing meals from the home but at higher prices. I’m often asked about the long-term viability of these services and my answer is always that meal delivery kit companies need to convince consumers they are worth the extra spend for the convenience and time savings they provide. Consumers also tell us a key challenge at dinner time is finding new and different recipes to make, which meal kits inherently provide and can be a key marketing message as well.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on May 20, 2016, changes to the 20-year-old Nutrition Facts label, which include font size change as well as new pieces of information required by food manufacturers in 2018. Among the changes are making "Calories" a much larger font than the rest of the label as well as now requiring an "Added Sugars" line to call out sugars that were placed in the product through the manufacturing process. The FDA probably had the best of intentions with these changes but the question is whether or not consumers will even take note of these changes.
For each of the last 10 years, more adults told us through our Dieting Monitor that they don't even look at the Nutrition Facts label; about a quarter of adults now claim they never to look at the panel. This increase could in part be attributed to the lack of news on the panel for the last two decades. It's almost like living in a big city for a long time with noise at all hours - you know it's there but you just don't pay attention to it anymore! So perhaps the label is more than ripe for change, but is making calories larger going to do it?
Over the last decade it was the top item adults looked at on the label, and since we've been told "calories in, calories out" during that time, why shouldn't consumers have done that? However, I've always had the sense that consumers aren't sure of the total calorie count they should consume on a daily basis. When restaurants began placing calorie counts on their menus, we saw little to no changes in behaviors. I believe it's because consumers don't have a relative yard stick against which they can apply the calorie number to know if it's too high. Think of it like this, the rest of the world uses the metric system, so if someone from a foreign country were to land in the U.S. and were told by the captain it's 30 degrees Fahrenheit, their first question might be, "is that hot or cold?" In case you're wondering, 30F = -1C and that's cold in my book!
Where we might see interest among consumers is with the Added Sugars line. Already we've seen consumers say that sugars are now the number one item they want to cut out of their diets replacing fats. This intention has also been followed by behaviors - over the last decade consumers are eating fewer sugary drinks and ice cream, and more bottled water, savory snacks, and "better-for-you" snacks like fruit and yogurt. But the other reason I think this number might be eye-opening for consumers is that they don't need to understand if the total number is high or low but they can see it in relation to the naturally occurring sugars. For example, if the Total Sugars line is 15g and the added sugars line as 12g, they can see the product naturally has very few grams of sugar and that nearly all the sugar in the product was added by the manufacturer.
As with most things, time will tell if the new label will have a result on our behaviors. As I always say in my talks, our consumption patterns move but very slowly so when these changes take effect in 2018 we should monitor behaviors for several years before we can say for sure if consumers are changing their ways.
Twice this year I’ve had the fortune of a business trip near where my parents live, thus saving me the personal expense of the visit! Since I study food trends, however, I guess I’m never really away from work since eating is something we all do at least a few times a day. I always find it interesting to compare my eating habits with my parents to see if we’re like most other Americans, particularly when it comes to generational differences.
On both these trips I stayed at their house and made my breakfast each morning so as not to burden them – anything to win the title of favorite child. One day I made eggs with spinach and feta cheese, on another day I had Greek yogurt, and when I was pressed for time I had a bar. To me it’s nice to change things up a little to ensure I don’t get bored and fall hopelessly into a rut.
My father joined in on the eggs one day, but on the others he stuck to his fruit while my mother had some toast with cottage cheese. I always thought variety was the spice of life but it seems that message didn’t get to my folks until I probed a little further to understand the motivations behind their morning meal decisions.
Dad’s been doing a great job of getting into shape to the point where he’s putting me to shame. His breakfasts are motivated by sticking to what he knows will help him maintain his healthy lifestyle. Mom’s motivations are a little different in that she’s looking for foods that won’t upset her stomach or give her heartburn. Overall my parents stick to their routines in the morning because they know the foods they choose are helping them achieve their health goals while avoiding unwanted consequences.
NPD’s continual tracking of eating patterns reveals a similar dynamic between Baby Boomers and Millennials. For the record, I’m a Gen Xer, but I appear to emulate their want for variety in the morning as I’m not as concerned the foods I eat will negatively impact me. Like Boomers, I like to start my day right, but I’m willing to reach for different items in my kitchen as I start my day. When we look at Boomers’, however, they stress motivations that center around favorites and routine because they have more reasons to narrow the available options.
Universally consumers’ breakfasts are motivated by a certain degree of healthfulness, but it’s important for marketers to dig deeper into the subtle nuances to most effectively communicate how your products satisfy all the motivations in play.
Now if only business trips near my family occurred regularly I could easily settle into that routine!
I just returned from the National Confectioners Association’s State of the Industry conference where the phrase, “There’s a war on sugar – not candy,” seemed to be a recurring theme. In today’s age of sugar avoidance, it might seem like a Hail Mary pass from an industry trying to navigate through tough headwinds, but when you look at consumers’ actual wants and needs it makes sense.
For full disclosure, I am one of the many people who want to avoid sugar in their diets and I actively try to avoid sweets whenever possible. I make eggs in the morning to avoid the simple carbs in many cold cereals, at lunch I opt for whole wheat bread for my sandwiches, and at dinner I try to use vegetables as side dishes and avoid rice and bread.
Every once in a while, however, I’ll get a craving for some nice chocolate and when I sink my teeth into it, I feel a rush of satisfaction and forget all the thoughts about avoiding sugar because my mouth AND mind are experiencing such a degree of bliss.
NPD’s ongoing snacking research reflects similar sentiments among consumers when it comes to their sweets. They try to avoid them, but they love them nonetheless. When you look at what we snack on over the course of the day, better-for-you items like fruit, yogurt, and savory snacks are the snacks of choice earlier in the day. It’s not until around 8 pm that we allow ourselves sweet indulgences. Maybe we want to reward ourselves for being good up to that point or are so tired our discipline is depleted.
This is why I’ve said during my snacking presentations that it’s not a matter of altering candy products to appeal to those who are watching their sugar intake, it’s a matter of appealing to the wants and emotions of consumers at the time of day when they are most likely to indulge in sweets. Point being that there is no war on candy…at least not in the evening.
If you’re old enough (and you probably aren’t), you remember when chicken sandwiches were once new, innovative items on fast food menus. And then, when fried chicken took on a less-than-healthful patina, grilled chicken sandwiches were brought in to address issues of healthy preparation. One wonders where the grill lines came from in restaurants that had no char broilers?
In the late ’80′s we were pretty limited in how we asked consumers what they ate. Due to the space constraints in the CREST foodservice market research paper diary we used in those days, we could only present consumers with a (pretty short) list of possible items. One drawback to this was that consumers might tell us they had a food item at a chain that we knew the chain didn’t sell.
This brings me back to chicken sandwiches. We found that consumers were reporting a fair number of broiled chicken sandwiches at a chain that we knew did not offer broiled chicken sandwiches. When we looked into this more carefully we found that lower income men were reporting fried chicken sandwiches, just as they should have. Higher income women, exactly the people you’d think would be eating broiled chicken, were reporting broiled chicken sandwiches. That is, the people who wanted fried, reported fried. The people who aspired to broiled reported broiled.
That was then.
Nowadays in the US we ask a whole bunch more stuff about what people are eating in our CREST consumer foodservice research. We ask toppings. We ask bread type. We ask salad dressing. We even ask if the consumer used flavored cream in their coffee. For the largest chains we insert the chain’s menu into the questionnaire. We also present the respondents with a bunch of attributes (organic, low fat, gluten free, locally sourced and bunches more) and ask if any of these attributes apply to the foods they ate in the meal they are telling us about.
So, here’s the cool thing: we can look at different demographic groups and see what kinds of attributes the foods they’re eating have. And, because we’re analysts, we can compare them and jump to conclusions. Because of the chicken sandwich experience, I was sure that the Millennials would be all over the “organic” and whatever while Boomers would skew to “low sodium” and stuff like that. Y’d think, wouldn’t ya?
But, and this is always a disappointment to an analyst, there isn’t much of a difference between young’ns and old’ns. Yes, the young are more likely than the old to identify some sort of attribute. And, yes older consumers are more likely to say “healthy” and young ones “high protein,” but there isn’t much difference for things like “organic” or “vegetarian” or even “low sodium.” These attributes amount to and offer that which appeals to everyone. And people are taking restaurants (even chains) up on that offer more and more.
BUT…not all organic food has an equal chance of being Snapchatted.
Everyone is on the qui vive for the next wildly inventive food fad. Who knows, maybe for the next fad even people living here around the global food blog’s mountain redoubt will get a chance to eat/see the exciting new thing. We can all hope.
Remember when there was no Cajun food outside of Louisiana? Probably not. You have to be kind of old to remember when Paul Prudhomme published his first cookbook and the country went crazy for all things Cajun. There was a surfeit of new Cajun restaurants in Chicago and non-Cajun restaurants all had “blackened something” on their menus.
No sooner had the excitement settled into a dull roar than the food press began talking about the “next Cajun.” Would it be Jamaican? Maybe Indian (still waiting). Could it be Middle Eastern? These days we’re thinking that maybe Peruvian could be it. The truth is that nothing has hit the food world quite like Cajun did in 1983 and 84. And don’t tell me Mexican; that just means you’re from the Northeast. And don’t tell me Thai; that predates Cajun in my food timeline.
Then the Cronut came along and, in its own way, became the next Cajun. Sorta. I’m pretty sure the words written about the Cronut out number the count of the people who ate the real thing by a factor of about 10. It spawned the phrase “the next Cronut.”
Speaking of the next Cronut, we’re getting ready to launch CREST Korea, our ongoing foodservice market research. We’ve already done a pilot to prepare for the launch and found that:
1. Koreans (like everyone) like their own food and their own brands. The fast food landscape is dominated by Korean chains.
2. Coffee and Cafes play a larger role in the Korean foodservice market than you might expect.
3. Bakeries? Who knew?…including Paris Baguette, which was recently identified by a US trade mag as being “French.” One look at the place, with the self service, the trays, and the tongs tells you this is Asian, not European.
4. Bulgogi is delightful. OK, that’s not the data talking. That’s me. But it is, 100%, a fact.
So now we and our CREST Korea clients are ready. Data collection will kick off on 1 January and will continue (as I tell everyone) until the end of time; just as is the case in any of the 12 countries where we have a CREST service. This spell of time before launch, no matter how far in advance we start, is always kind of frantic as we review build-after-build of the questionnaire until it’s just right…then we will translate it to Korean and start all over again.
Part of that process is to actually take the questionnaire over and over again to see if it breaks during any sequence of answers. It’s good to have an actual visit to a restaurant in mind when taking the questionnaire or a person can get lost. For the big chains, we present respondents with the chain’s actual menu to tell us what they had to eat or drink.
And, there on Burger King Korea’s menu, as I was testing the questionnaire, were the words “chicken doughnut.” Those two words, chicken and doughnut, together for the first time. You don’t need a good reason to go to Seoul. It’s lovely. And the Koreans do things with chicken that will make you smack your lips.
But if you want a shot at the next big thing? Chicken Doughnuts. ’Nuff said.