Millennials are driving the better-for-you snacking category, according to a study sponsored by Amplify Snack Brands from The Center for Generational Kinetics.
These younger consumers have strong demand for healthy snack options — 89% of millennials ate at least one better-for-you snack in the past week, and 50% have driven at least five miles to buy a snack they were craving. Nearly two-thirds (64%) said they preferred snacks with fewer ingredients, and 79% said being able to understand everything on the ingredient list boosted their trust in a packaged snack.
Millennial parents are also conscious of buying better-for-you snacks for their children, potentially paving the way for a new generation of healthier snackers. Most millennial moms (55%) said their children were likely to choose a better-for-you snack over another packaged snack.
Marketers tend to pay a lot of attention to millennials, and with good reason. The demographic includes consumers aged about 18-34, a group that represents about 23.4% of the U.S. population. It's the biggest demographic in U.S. history — even bigger than the baby boomer generation. With millennials on the cusp of their prime spending years, they are set to transform the economy for decades, according to Goldman Sachs.
Snacking is no exception. Food manufacturers are getting on board, creating more options that cater to millennials’ preference for tasty, convenient, nutritious snacks. Taste is still the most important factor for younger consumers when choosing a snack, but this demographic isn't willing to sacrifice health for flavor.
Millennials are also eating more snack foods within meals, such as fresh fruit and yogurt. Food companies have aimed to capitalize on this, developing snack-meals and items like meat snacks with vegetables and granola bars with more natural ingredients that can serve as meal supplements or replacements.
It’s a major shift for traditional snack companies, as snacks conventionally have been seen as less healthy treats that occur outside of mealtimes. Although millennials still make room for indulgent snacks, they are emerging as the most health-conscious generation. Beyond an interest in simple ingredient lists, low-sugar and low-calorie foods, many also use the internet to educate themselves about healthy foods and functional ingredients, such as turmeric, apple cider vinegar, jackfruit, avocado oil, cauliflower rice and bone broth. Manufacturers aiming to target younger adults may profit from highlighting the function and benefit of their products, and reformulating existing favorites to include probiotic ingredients.