Snack On! Marketing Snacks to On-the-Go Millennials

Guest Post by Carolyn Torres Kelley

Millennials have busy social lives, and as a result they exhibit some interesting shopping habits specific to the candy and snack category.

According to research by Barkley and BCG, Millennials tend to snack far more than older generations.  It is very common for Millennials to regularly have snacks in the mid-morning, mid-afternoon and late at night.

The line between meals and snacks is blurring.

Frequent snacking is an opportunity McDonald’s has seized with menu items like Snack Wraps and Chicken McBites.  Taco Bell also leveraged this trend with their “fourth meal” campaign.

This also relates to Millennials’ lifestyles.  They are seldom alone.  They travel in groups, or are always about to meet up with someone.  They tend to get together for drinks and snacks regularly.  Even at work, it is common for them to bring snacks to meetings, even passing the bag around for everyone to share.  Food is a big component of their social lives.

Millennials Look to Buy Snacks Everywhere They Go

Millennials shop a wider range of channels than other generations, and tend to purchase at places better known for ‘instant consumption’ than for planning ahead.  When asked where they buy non-chocolate confectionery, Millennials listed all sorts of outlets, but were more likely than everyone else to say they buy at events, gas stations, convenience stores and vending machines.  Basically, wherever they happen to be, they are probably open to buying a snack if one catches their eye.  This is not surprising, since Millennials tend to be impulse buyers who want what they want, when they want it.

Millennials Love to Share

Millennials use their smart phones for everything from constantly texting friends, to staying connected through social media, to researching and buying products online. Thanks to technology, Millennials are very aware of what is happening in the world around them.  Through social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, they share what they care about and encourage others to get involved.

Millennials in particular rely even more heavily on the opinions of others.  Of the participants in a 2011 study, those under 35 years of age where almost twice as likely in some cases to rely on input from others.  Millennials look to friends and family members 65% of the time for information on products and services.  They refer to coworkers and classmates 43% of the time.  They also depend on consumer online reviews and blogs and professional reviews. Smart phone applications such as GrubHub, OpenTable and Yelp make it easy for Millennials to quickly find things and places to eat in an instant any time of day.

Skittles Attracts Millennials With Online Fun 

Skittles is a brand that has leveraged Millennials’ desire to connect to engage consumers on the web. Its Facebook page has over 21.5 million fans, nearly as many as Starbucks. Fans are encouraged to upload photos showing their devotion to the brand. Its “Ride the Rainbow” games are a fun way to feature novelty products like Skittles Riddles, where the colors don’t match the flavors.

KIND Gets a Bite From Millennials with Healthy Snack Options

Millennials care about how they look and enjoy taking care of themselves. Many are frequent exercisers and nearly all try to eat healthy.  Snacks that have a good-for-you angle are well positioned. According to Candy & Snack Today, the energy and nutrition bar segment grew 14% last year and is projected to grow at an even faster rate through 2016.

KIND Healthy Snacks, with the motto “be KIND to your body, your taste buds and the world” is well-positioned to engage Millennials.  This is just the type of brand that could gain a large Millennial following because it’s good for you and is connected to a cause.  Millennials tend to be aware of and cautious about the sugar content of their food, along with other ingredients.  Also, remember that a fourth of them are parents, so offering them something they can feel good about giving to their kids is a must.

Millennials have strong nostalgic feelings

The ’90s are the newest “good old days.” Even though they aren’t very old, many Millennials find themselves in uncertain times now and have fond feelings for the books, movies, music and brands of their childhood. They grew up with Harry Potter, Pixar movies and Beavis and Butthead.  These memories are part of their bond with each other. Many brands like MTV are discovering nostalgia can be a way to Millennials’ hearts.  Maybe candy brands should remind sentimental Millennials how they played a role in their childhood, as well. Times are tough right now for everyone and especially for young adults.    Show them how much fun it can be to enjoy the products of their   childhood.

Carolyn Kelley is a Marketing Consultant at Brand Amplitude, LLC.  You can follow Carolyn @MiamiBelle