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Millennial market wants "authenticity" in food and beverage

Classic brands like Coca-Cola and Starbucks scored high
By Entrepreneur Staff |



Two national ethnographic studies in the US examined the media habits of millennial food and beverage consumers and found out that this market prefers brands that project authenticity, which is defined by simplicity and consistency, according to US-based brand strategy firm Watershed Communications.


Among the top mentioned authentic food and beverage brands liked by millennials are Coca-Cola and Starbucks, brands that are also popular among the young in the Philippines.



The five specific factors that marked food and beverage authenticity for millennials were clean ingredients (preferably natural, fresh and organic), great taste, truthfulness to the brand mission (particularly for classic brands), cultural accuracy and transparency (packaging must clearly state what the food item is all about).


The “Media Habits of Millennials” study investigated whether social media and influencer marketing have eclipsed the impact of traditional editorial coverage, while the study “What Matters to Millennials” looked into the marketing buzzword “authenticity” to learn what creates an authentic brand according to millennials.


According to the Media Habits study, 84 percent of millennials feel they can easily describe, in one sentence, a food or beverage brand or product they just discovered.


“It’s more important than ever to make sure you are strategic in brand communications from the very beginning. While we found that millennials are still reading print magazines and newspapers, the key takeaway from the study was the speed at which this generation makes up their minds about a brand,” said Watershed founder Lisa Donoughe. “This generation is forming opinions about brands from the minute they read about them.”



In the What Matters study, 100 percent of the millennials surveyed said they frequently purchase food and beverage brands they list as authentic.


“The authenticity message is massive,” said Alexia Howard, senior U.S. Food Analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein.


Watershed Communications found six key pillars for building an authentic brand: compassion, community, customization, co-creation, consistency and conviction. It claims that in the world of food and beverage, millennials are instantaneous decision makers, making it necessary therefore to always be strategic in messaging and marketing.


“We were surprised by the millennial definition of authenticity,” said Donoughe. “Millennials want simplicity and consistency – not just small, indie brands.”


In the “Media Habits of Millennials” study, Watershed Communications  looked at 178 video from 67 millennials submitted over the course of a week, while it spoke to 400 millennials in five days for the “What Matters to Millennials” study.

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