Millennials have a great potential to change our culture. For the food and drink industry, change is nothing new. New tastes and influences constantly turn over menus and products that reflect consumer demand. However, young people today are forcing the hand of manufacturers and restaurateurs. Demand for unique, varied, and stimulating food and drink is higher than ever.
Here, Electrix, a provider of electrical junction boxes for food and drink manufacturers, explores the trends that millennials enjoy and how it can help restaurants, bars, and stores get a competitive edge.
Millennials thrive on uniqueness, and seeking out new experiences is at the core of food and drink culture for this generation. 72 percent of millennials said that they would prefer to spend money on experiences over material things. Food and drink brands recognizing this shift in behavior are beginning to question whether they are selling a product or selling an experience.
To enjoy unique experiences, millennials will seek out opportunities to try new foods and drinks, exploring flavors that have been traditionally hidden in mainstream culture. In the US, international cuisine has seen accelerated growth. In fact, international cuisine is expected to outpace traditional food categories within the next three to five years, according to the Food Institute.
This is happening because the cuisine offers new experiences. Boundaries must be pushed if opportunities are to be found. This journey begins by finding a unique selling point of food and drink and understanding how to create an experience around it.
No option is not an option
Millennials demand choice, and brands that can offer variety are succeeding with millennial demographics. It shouldn’t be surprising. Young people today are familiar with choice: picking from thousands of movies on Netflix, browsing an expansive selection of nut milk in a local café, or debating how and where to eat their food. The latter has certainly been popularized during the pandemic.
Restaurants have not only seen the opportunity in food delivery, but lockdowns have forced restaurant-quality food to come to the customer, rather than the customer heading to the restaurant.
The trend of home delivery options is expected to grow. While in 2017, restaurant to consumer delivery in the US was valued at $11.5 billion, by 2020 it achieved $15.6 in sales. Projections suggest it will further grow to $18.5 billion by 2024. As home delivery options increase, proactive food and drink businesses that seize the opportunity will similarly experience growth. The choice to eat in, take out, or use delivery services is essential for millennials.
Choice isn’t just about convenience. Food and drink brands should curate offerings that reflect lifestyle choices. Does a food brand offer vegan alternatives or meet any other dietary requirements? Can a bar offer a selection of non-alcoholic drinks? Creating choice is creating inclusivity, and when looking for new food and drink options, this offering will give businesses a competitive edge.
Stimulating all the senses
Food and drink aren’t just for the pleasure of tongues. Today, millennials expect an aesthetics experience that they can share with friends and family on social media. In fact, ‘#Food’ has been tagged over 456 billion times on Instagram. ‘#Drink’ and ‘#Cocktails’ have been tagged over 47 million and 30 million times respectively. Millennials make up the main bulk of Instagram users, with those aged between 18 to 34 making up 62 percent of global users.
One survey found that 69 percent of US millennials in this age range took a photo of their food before eating. So, should those in the food industry be working to make their food look great as well as taste great? Absolutely!
Food and drink that appeals to all the senses are gaining ground, whether in restaurants or on grocery store shelves. Consider social media sensations such as Salt Bae, sprinkling seasoning over steak. The recent trend of baklava, tossing pistachio pastry into the air. Or Martinelli apple juice, which replicates the sound of an apple when the bottle is bitten. Each is exciting, unique, and goes down a storm on social media, building millions of views on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok.
Millennials are forcing the food and drink industry to be more than just connoisseurs of flavor. Value in other aspects must be recognized and actioned to encourage millennials through the door.