- Millennials and their distinct lifestyles and eating habits are driving a movement in the industry as companies embrace trends ranging from convenience to clean ingredient labels.
- Manufacturers have had to adapt by making strategic business decisions regarding new and existing products — they may find ingredients that meet millennials' and other generations of consumers' demands, but that can come as a trade-off in terms of look or taste of the product, a shorter shelf life, or higher costs that may not be passed along to the consumer and cut into margins.
- The debate now is whether reformulations are the best way to reach health-conscious consumers or if manufacturers should invest in the natural and organic brands they have created or acquired.
Commonplace is the idea that consumers are generally more health-conscious and curious about what goes into their food. But many consumers who are not following this route, are satisfied with the products manufacturers have always stocked on shelves. Research shows that even these health-conscious consumers allow themselves to indulge more often than they might admit, with even the healthiest-eating segment of consumers still purchasing their fair share of foods with sugar and high fructose corn syrup, according to the 2015 Sweetener360 report.
Another study found that while polls show the vast majority of Americans want GMOs labeled when prompted. But, when asked what consumers want on product labels without being prompted with specific attributes, only 7% said they wanted GMOs on the label. There is value then in basing decisions about product development and reformulation on purchase data.
Health-conscious millennials and "food evangelists" are often raising their children with the same values about food, which can include everything from an avoidance of artificial ingredients to distrust in major food companies. A recent Mintel study found millennials are more likely than any other generation to distrust larger manufacturers, and nearly three out of four millennials also want better transparency from companies.