Is That Organic? How Millennial Food & Beverage Choices are Quickly Changing

image basket of vegetables
Consumers of all ages have begun to pay more attention to their health and wellness. So how can brands position themselves around these trends? Our food and beverage deep dive takes a look at how gen-Z and millennials’ conception of health and wellness influences their behaviors.

Over the past 20 years consumers have begun to pay more attention to the concepts of wellness, self-care and mindfulness. In fact, 96% of gen-Z and millennials relate “wellness” to their health.

This influences many micro- and macro-trends in the food, healthcare and beauty industries. With food and beverages in particular, people are becoming more selective in what they consume, and when they consume it.

Our work takes a deep look at how gen-Z and millennials are defining health and wellness with respect to food and beverages. Below are 3 highlights of the findings:

  • Healthy-eating trends by generation
  • Shifting norms for younger consumers, and
  • Tips for marketers

Healthy Eating by Generation

In order to see how health and  food trends have affected each generation, we segmented consumers into four groups based off their eating habits: clean eaters, principally healthy, occasionally mindful, and neglecters. 

Graphic showing healthy eating by age

Our findings indicate that healthy eating increases with age. Almost a third of those aged 65+ are clean eaters, compared to an average in the low twenties for the under-65 set.

Gen-X and boomers cite a health imperative to keep in their health in top shape to avoid illness as the source of their healthy eating habits. Younger consumers meanwhile, claim that they can eat poorly due to their body’s youthful vigor.

Young Consumers and Shifting Norms

Over the past decade dietary norms have changed with younger consumers’ diets becoming healthier. This is  especially true among millennials who are educated, located in urban areas, with high incomes. So what exactly has shifted?

Millennial consumers are now less accepting of high sugar foods such as chocolate, ice cream and dried fruit relative to boomer+. They are also more likely to pay attention to claims such as “doctor-recommended”, “eco-friendly” and “organic”.

These claims drive purchasing decisions, with 30% of millennials saying they go out of their way to buy organic or natural products. This is the highest among all generational groups. The demand for organic foods will likely continue to increase as 5 in 10 parents who buy organic are millennial.

Table of percentages of gen-z and millennials buying organic products

Implications for Marketers

Over the coming decades, demand for healthier food stands to increase as these consumers age.  Given the health imperative to eat cleaner foods, many millennials who don’t buy healthy foods now, will begin to as they get older.

It’s important to consider where your brand lies on the health food spectrum. Will you tout health benefits as a way to resonate with younger consumers? Or will you position your brand as a commendable indulgence for consumers who are seeking to practice self-care?

Consumers are indeed becoming more health-conscious and while this trend is visible across age groups, millennials are driving its growth. Whether or not your brand is healthy, engaging with wellness is non-negotiable.

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