Curiosity may have killed the cat. But it’s doing the exact opposite for some of today’s most successful food and beverage brands. Curiosity is creating new stories and companies that speak to millennials’ desire to know more about the products they buy. Providing information and building engagement is what brings in millennials and holds their attention.
More than other generations, knowledge-hungry millennials feel their moral compass activated when they make purchases. They’re willing to pay more for sustainably sourced products and services. And they’re largely responsible for the clean-label trend, which puts the onus on brands to show the origins of their materials and ingredients. Sharing this information deepens brands’ connection and differentiation with millennials. Their behavior rewards brands for owning and telling their stories as only they can.
These generational traits are creating new opportunities for food and beverage brands. Whether a millennial is shopping in person or online, the package they see as a thumbnail image or hold in their hands must quickly make the right impression. Brands that choose and design packaging that is inspirational, informational and above all, functional, will succeed with millennials.
Inspiring a Stolid Industry
Millennials grew up with disruption as a fact of life. They were the first to do homework with the internet instead of the library. They practically made social media what it is today. They don’t buy products just because they grew up eating and drinking them. With so much choice in food and beverage, millennials want to buy brands that speak their language. If they don’t find one immediately, they’ll keep looking until they do.
Bottled water is a category ripe for change and there are many well positioned new contenders. JUST, Flow and Rethink encourage millennials to hydrate with ease, knowing that their eye-catching paperboard packages are made of renewable materials and their water sources are sustainable. By being transparent about their products, these companies just might cause a revolution in a category currently facing scrutiny. Water is just one category millennials are shaking up; another is wine.
Breaking the Mold Is Cool
Not long ago, wine drinkers were up in arms about producers replacing corks with screw caps – in essence, trading tradition with functionality. Today, screw caps are more popular, and the next revolution in wine packaging is here: wine in cartons of varying sizes with screw caps. We have millennials’ desire for quality on-the-go options to thank for growing the movement for more portable and unbreakable boxed wine – once the epitome of uncool.
While new brands are cropping up all the time, it’s great to see a third-generation winery, Sutter Home, adapt to market trends and go after the millennials segment with its new Twist and Go wines. So far, Twist and Go sales have succeeded in appealing to millennials’ active lifestyles. This simple change in packaging and perception frees people from lugging around a heavy bottle and a corkscrew on picnics, camping trips and other gatherings away from home. Its 500ml size adds convenience, while its screw cap makes it easier to form a tight seal. To top it all off, paper packages have a lighter carbon footprint than glass bottles. If this trend continues and boxed wine becomes more common, the next generation of drinkers may marvel at the quaintness of the phrase “popping the cork.”
Speaking Honestly & Directly
Millennials want to be excited by the foods that they buy—as evidenced by the staggering number who “tweet and eat.” They can’t wait to share their latest dining finds, whether it’s a restaurant or a product. A package that elicits a positive emotional response is often the lynchpin in getting Millennials to snap a photo of a product and share it with their friends and followers.
Oatly, a dairy alternative brand, does this exceptionally well. Every package proclaims, “It’s Swedish!” and “The Original Oatly!” Rendered in bold fonts, these exclamations easily catch the eye in person and online. Oatly’s effusive messaging is matched by its pride in telling people what it is: an oat drink. By being direct and transparent about the product, Oatly has created a thoroughly engaging brand persona, encouraging the two-way dialogue millennials desire.
The need for brands to offer functionality, inspiration and information is hardly limited to Millennials. Their children are growing up believing that this is the norm. Older generations are similarly inclined to demand that companies meet their changing needs. Being curious about consumer needs and creating packaging that provokes dialogue and brand loyalty is exciting and definitely keeps us marketers on our toes. Millennials are changing not only packaging, but all the ways in which brands interact with people.
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