For The Love of Food: Millennials and Boomers
posted by Stuart Cumming ~ 23/02/15
Category: Business

Should we expect fireworks if Millennials and Boomers were to meet for a bite? Some shin scarring kicks beneath the table perhaps?

Surprisingly enough, individual personalities aside, there are a lot of things these very age divergent generations would find they have in common. Particularly about their attitudes to the food they eat and the environment they eat it in.  

For a design company like us, who produces catalogues for kitchen appliance,

Their motivations are quite different
homewares and furniture retailers, there are some good learnings here. 

While there may appear much that unites these generations, it is important to note that their motivations are quite different. And the communications style required to press each of their buttons, also differs greatly.

Millennials and Boomers share a love of good food.

In a review of the trends impacting the USA's  "biggest eaters" reports that, together, these two demographics make up more than half of that country's population and spending power. Millennials share a love of good food with Boomers as well as a growing interest in health, culinary adventure and ethical eating. Boomers, on the other hand, are a generation of people "determined not to age, are watching and adopting Millennial behaviour - in part to stay young in both spirit and body."

For Millennials, food is rooted in self-expression, while Boomers are motivated more by staying relevant.

Both are label readers. For different reasons.

These days Boomers are a lot more interested in what they're eating. They seek functional foods that contribute to health: specifically brain, bone, skin, joints and eyes.


Millennials however, are less likely to count calories or seek specific nutrients, but are more interested in the provenance, integrity and quality of ingredients.

Boomers want anti-aging, fountain-of-youth properties
"Authentic" is a word often used when describing this generation.

While Millennials are most likely to seek organic, (30% eat organic foods compared to 15% of Boomers), interest in organic among Boomers is growing, with more than half saying they buy more today than previously.

Both generations vote with their wallets.

Millennials in particular expect brands to "do good" so they in turn can feel good about theirpurchase, and themselves. According to the survey, they'll actively seek "story". We made a mental note of this observation, as we are great advocates of including engaging, rich content in our catalogue design.

A shared concern for societal welfare also bonds the two generations. And both are prepared to vote with their wallets to prompt change.

"Surprise me!"

We're sensitive to the fact that this is a US study and that their food culture and experience varies significantly from ours.


That said, this observation "Whether eating out or dining in, food is a source of entertainment and engagement for Millennials; it's the arbiter of cool." does ring true to us. The study goes on to suggest they want unexpected flavor combinations, exotic ingredients, heat and spice.They want to be surprised.

For Millennials, food is the arbiter of cool
Some may suggest that Boomers were a generation raised on frozen dinners and canned goods. But like their Millennial counterparts, they are now also seeking fresher, cleaner ingredients, from both ready-to-eat grocery items to fast food. When home cooking, Boomers are looking for more control over their health, while Millennials seek quality ingredients. Both are looking for quality and flavor, and are driving huge growth in ready-to-eat meals.

Executive Summary

The original article (see URL below) ends with a summary of the common denominators that marketers should be aware of.

  • Simple nutrition panels with healthy ingredients win. Both consumers are looking for fresh, minimally processed food, especially in ready-to-eat items.
  • Storytelling (read "content marketing") is compelling and can prompt new purchases and drive word of mouth. But keep it authentic; consumers can sniff out when it's hyperbole.
  • Don't ignore social. Younger audiences dominate on social channels, but Boomers are the fastest-growing segment of new adopters.
  • Use visuals. Thanks to social, consumers are eating with their eyes -  video is the fastest growing medium online.
  • Look beyond current flavor trends to attract a younger audience; they want to be the first to try and share something new.

The original article referred to here first appeared under the headline

Millennials Seek Story, Boomers The Fountain Of Youth

by Jennifer Maxwell-Muir, February 2, 2015

Image credit: Jen Causey, via Pinterest

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