Millennial Parents are Eating Healthier; General Mills and Trader Joe’s Tap Into New Mindset

Posted by: Laura Fromm

Carbohydrates and sugars are out, fresh fruits and vegetables are in. With a new focus on healthful lifestyles, Millennial parents don’t just want their kids eating right, they want them living right.

The definition of “healthy” is changing for Millennials

We are seeing a shift from defining healthy as low calorie to less processed, fresher food that contains fewer artificial ingredients. As a result, loyalty to traditional fast food and quick-service restaurants is declining rapidly for the Millennial generation. Recent data shows that Millennials, and particularly Millennial parents, are more likely to prefer a fast-casual dining experience that promises convenience with quality. For Millennial parents, that means quick-service restaurants and meal options that don’t make them feel guilty about eating out with the family. Panera and Chipotle are the big winners that have tapped into this mindset and are leading the pack when it comes to creating quality driven quick options for Millennial parents.

We are also seeing this shift have a major impact in grocery and CPG spending. Millennial parents are no longer loyal to big-name brands like Kraft and Tyson. Instead, they are opting for private label brands from places like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods. When shopping, Millennials often read package labels in order to choose food and beverage options with fewer additives. We are seeing that they have greater confidence level in private brands that are known for aligning with the new definition of healthy than brands that are traditionally over processed. Our research shows that one in five new parents support the local food movement and look for foods fortified with more protein, fiber, antioxidants and fewer artificial ingredients.

General Mills, best known for its Cheerios cereal and crispy, flakey, Pillsbury cinnamon rolls purchased Annie’s Inc. for $820 million last year. Annie’s, a brand most known for its organic products and family oriented snacks, has situated itself firmly in the healthy space and guarantees products that are made without artificial flavors, synthetic colors or preservatives. Partnering with Annie’s has helped General Mills boost its organic business to keep up with changing consumer preferences for natural ingredients, as clean and healthy living becomes a priority for Millennials with kids.

More than just food

This trend towards a healthier lifestyle extends beyond natural foods. Millennial parents are incorporating natural products when purchasing medications as well. Forty one percent of Millennial moms use natural remedies for their children compared to just 13 percent of moms the same age in 2009. Furthermore, 30 percent of Millennial moms avoid synthetic ingredients in personal care products for the family. Millennial parents aren’t just concerned about what they are putting in their bodies, but also how they are treating their bodies and are raising their children to behave the same way.

The days of pizza bites and Little Debbie snacks are over. Millennials are dedicated to wellness. They are exercising more, eating healthier and smoking less than previous generations. Parents are taking a fundamental shift in their approach to healthy living as they choose fresh over frozen and natural over processed for both themselves and their families.

For more information about how Millennial parents are re-defining our consumer market, check out our report, Mr. and Mrs. Millennial Mom and Dad or read our latest feature in Time Magazine.

About Laura Fromm

Laura recently graduated summa cum laude from Tulane University's A.B. Freeman School of Business. Laura has experience working on social strategies for clients ranging from Blue Bunny to On the Border. Her experience at Yelp...See Laura's full bio.