Treat millennial bakery consumers as individuals, not a group, says IRI

By Douglas Yu contact

- Last updated on GMT

Organic goods account for around 1% of US bakery purchases. Photo: iStock - PeteerS
Organic goods account for around 1% of US bakery purchases. Photo: iStock - PeteerS

Related tags: Organic food, Organic farming, Generation y

Manufacturers and retailers of organic food must consider the individual needs of millennial consumers and not treat them as a homogeneous group, say analysts IRI.

Millennials – who account for a quarter of organic bakery purchases in the US - are often lumped together as having the same needs, characteristics and shopping behavior, when they are actually “quite different​”, IRI executive vice president Sally Wyatt told the recent Baking Tech conference in Chicago.

While organic goods represent only 1% of total bakery purchases, it is an important part of the market for millennials, who increased their purchase of organic bakery items by 39% compared to 8% for total bakery.

“This growth was driven by millennials’ affinity towards organic products, expanded availability, as well as new items,”​ said Wyatt. “With this type of growth and the size of the millennial population, organics will continue to steal share away from other types of products.”

Organic in wellness plans

Unlike other generations, millennials also include organic products as part of their wellness plans.

But while it is tempting to believe all millennials think the same way about organics, that is not the case, said Wyatt, adding the generation was more nuanced.

Some parts of the millennial population that currently buy organics will always do so, she feels, but others do not have the same consideration for organics.

“It is important for the bakery industry - and all industries - to understand the unique characteristics of millennials and strive to design products and marketing targeted to the relevant segments within the generation,”​ said Wyatt.

Tailoring marketing messages

In addition, millennials have a path-to-purchase that leverages digital, social and other mediums, she said, adding that this requires the bakery industry to find ways to target their communications and tailor their message.

The industry already offered a good range of organic fresh bread and rolls, said Wyatt, but she felt there was a need to widen the selection to include bagels, pastry, doughnuts, pies, cakes – particularly as the growth in organics could be challenged by other interests.

“Other trends will emerge – such as biodynamic food - and time will tell if they will catapult over organics,”​ she said.  

General Mills this week​ announced it was aiming to double the organic acreage it sources ingredients from to meet growing demand for natural and organic products.

Related topics: R&D, Bread, Cakes & Pastries, Health

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