- Millennials may snag much of manufacturers' attention these days, but baby boomers have their own perceptions and attitudes toward food that manufacturers should keep in mind, according to a study from the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation. Boomers are more apt to consider whole grains (80% vs. 70%), plant proteins (75% vs. 63%) and omega-3 fatty acids (71% vs. 59%) as healthy, compared to millennials.
- Boomers are also more inclined to seek out foods with different health benefits, such as weight management, cardiovascular health and digestive health. Millennials, on the other hand, trend toward mental health, muscle health and immunity.
- Nine in 10 of boomers who recently adjusted their beliefs on added sugars said they have reduced their intake. Boomers were more likely to view added sugars as less healthful than they did before compared to millennials (37% vs. 29%). Boomers were also more likely to consider low-calorie sweeteners as a factor in weight management than millennials (31% vs. 14%) and the population as a whole (18%).
With all of these differences in mind, manufacturers realize they could have very different consumers to please with the same product and marketing strategies. If they plug one health benefit, one generation could pass the product by. Promote another health benefit, and the other generation walks. It's a key reason why experts say manufacturers should consider segmenting out their ideal consumer and developing the product and marketing materials specifically for that one demographic. Appealing to a broad audience can backfire, especially among generational divides in food perceptions.
The study's findings reveal compelling implications for manufacturers of better-for-you foods, such as that boomers trend toward whole grains, plant proteins and omega-3s more than millennials. Often manufacturers market those health benefits toward a younger health-centric crowd. But companies may not realize that they could have a more loyal audience in an older demographic, not to mention a generation with considerable buying power.
The viewpoint on sweeteners is a sticking point for manufacturers as they contend with new dietary guidelines that recommend limiting sugar consumption and a new Nutrition Facts panel that will require them to label added sugars in their products. Low-calorie sweeteners have taken a hit from health-conscious consumers, including millennials, who say they'd rather pay more for better-for-you sweeteners, more than any other generation, according to a Sweetener360 report.