The Private Label Manufacturers Association’s (PLMA’s) newest report, How America’s Eating Habits are Changing, focuses on millennials and their eating habits, and it found that although they purchase from many different sources, they frequently shop at supermarkets. Once inside the store, 56 percent buy bakery items.

“Millennials are a generation of nibblers and experimenters, so in-store sampling and demonstrations are popular,” says the report. 35 percent of millennials opt for fresh baked bread products during meals or snacking, and 58 percent prefer salty snacks like chips and popcorn for snacking; 41 percent prefer sweet snacks such as cookies, candy, or donuts.

“Store brands remain the retailer’s most potent weapon in developing strategies for this age group. It offers flexibility and opportunities to be creative with product assortment and concept without waiting for national brands. But it requires an understanding of what this age group likes and will buy,” remarks Brian Sharoff, president, PLMA.

50 percent of millennials average at least four meals or snacks per day, and seven percent said they snack, or “graze,” throughout the day. “Snacking throughout the day has taken over for daypart-style meals,” comments Andrew Moberly, director, category solutions, Daymon, Stamford, CT. “This puts frozen and shelf-stable snacks in a good spot for future growth. Snacks provide a perfect, low-risk way to try out new cuisines and ways of eating, too.”

PLMA found that 9 out of 10 millennials say that they are aware of the ingredients in the food products they eat, and 3 out of 4 read the nutritional labels on products. This loyalty has important implications for store brands.

The 2016 “Trend Insight” report from FONA International report suggests that retailers who create a “brand story” will do very well, especially among millennials, who “like a brand story more than any other consumer group.”

The FONA report notes, “Retailers who take the time to create a brand story, support it across all marketing channels including social media, and communicate often, will gain these fiercely loyal customers who already appreciate store brands.”

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