The emergence of millennials, a new breed of tech-savvy consumers who are passionate about food and highly demanding on a range of product attributes when it comes to the items they purchase, will require vegetable marketers to develop and introduce new products, new varieties, new flavours and new ways of selling to maintain growth in sales.
That was the stand-out message in a detailed presentation on the so-called Generation Y delivered by Elena Ozeritskaya, founder of leading innovation consultancy Fresh Insight, at this year’s European Vegetable Strategies in Brussels, Belgium.
Ozeritskaya also argued that many of the new trends in terms of consumer preferences were currently being driven by members of Generation Y – those born since the early 1980s – but, crucially for the wider market, these attitudes to fresh produce and food in general were also being picked up by older generations.
“Generation Y is a new generation of more adventurous, more positive consumers,” she explained. “It’s a mega-trend. They will represent 34 per cent of the global population by 2020 and 75 per cent of the workforce by 2030, so they will matter.”
With a high average purchasing power and an openness bordering on hunger for change in terms of the foods they eat, Generation Y consumers tend to be most adaptive to change.
Their behaviour as consumers is already disrupting the traditional flow, with 35 per cent of all the food they eat understood to be snacks, according to Ozeritskaya, and technology featuring prominently in their purchasing patterns.
That trend is opening up new opportunities for marketers to tailor their offer to people who are more interested in food than the average consumer, she said.
“We’re seeing the introduction of some interesting new flavours, for example, like pepper or wasabi in salad bags. Generation Y consumers are prepared to pay for these new products.”
As well as appreciating great food, millennials were after a range of different attributes when it came to buying fresh vegetables, she added, indicating they wanted authenticity, experience, quality, taste, convenience, immediate delivery, supply chain insight, engagement with suppliers, nostalgia and local product.
“Supplying these things is not impossible,” Ozeritskaya added.