- An online survey of 1,250 people ages 18-39 found 55% of Gen Zers and 54% of millennials are more likely to order an item from a restaurant with branded ingredients they recognize. Also, more than half of Gen Zers are more likely to order an item with a branded ingredient they ate as a child, according to the survey conducted last fall by Hershey Foodservice and the Center for Generational Kinetics.
- Seven out of 10 Gen Zers and 63% of millennials are likely to return to a restaurant where they enjoyed a Hershey-branded dessert to order another. Most said they’d pay a premium for such a dessert.
- “We see across generations that people have a strong affinity for their favorite brands from childhood,” Jason Dorsey, president of the Center for Generational Kinetics, said in a news release. “The research confirms how the use of branded ingredients in desserts can drive foodservice sales with this important segment of U.S. consumers.”
Although millennials and young consumers typically crave new food experiences, they also have strong loyalty and trust in certain brands, especially those they remember from childhood. This could pay big dividends for CPG companies that figure out ways to get their products onto restaurant menus. And it’s not just Hershey that sees this. A Technomic Dessert Consumer Trend report last year found 62% of consumers say they like to order desserts with brand-name ingredients at restaurants and will pay more for them. Using trusted brands as ingredients could boost traffic for both restaurants and grocery delis or even meal kits.
When it comes to sweets, Hershey's, Oreo and M&M's have been ranked in YBrands' top 10 list of the most trustworthy brands among consumers 13 to 36 years of age, according to MediaPost. Hershey's was ranked third, Oreo fifth and M&M's sixth.
“Young people may trust brands like Hershey's, Oreo, and M&M's because they've consistently made products they love for a long time — and there's no reason not to trust them,” Bobby Calise, Ypulse’s vice president of Ybrands, its youth brand tracking product, told MediaPost.
What’s more, millennial and Gen Z interest in exciting re-imaginations of products can be a boon for iconic brands that can successfully play up their nostalgia and creativity at the same time. And that nostalgia is a growing trend in the food and beverage industry even as consumers show increasing concern about sugar and artificial ingredients.
At the same time, CPG companies must be sure their product fits the restaurant or chains they want to partner with, Darren Tristano, president of restaurant research and consulting firm Technomics, told Project NOSH last year. Chobani yogurt won’t necessarily be trying to get into McDonald’s, for example, but may instead look to smaller, more upscale establishments where name recognition has more impact. Similarly, Hershey or M&M likely will be looking for restaurants most likely to appeal to the younger crowd that remembers the candies from their childhood.
What’s more, Tristano told Project NOSH, restaurants using top national brands such as Hershey or Oreo will want to place the brand name and logo on their menu to raise consumer awareness and increase sales.
Nostalgia for trusted brands from childhood gives agile food manufacturers a huge opportunity to sell their products. Smart companies will look to find restaurants that seem like a good fit for their customer base, then work with restaurant kitchens and chefs to develop luscious dessert or drink recipes that will keep consumers coming back.