Winning with Health-Conscious Millennials—Look Past the Superficial

Millennials are hard to ignore. Not only are there 84 million of them, born between the years 1977 and 1994, but they are expected to replace much of the purchasing power of Boomers over the coming decade.

For consumer packaged goods companies, Millennials are a major focus of product development and marketing. Given the way Millennials view health & wellness, they should be a particular focus for those marketing healthy brands.

Millennials represent a unique marketing challenge, however. They spend nearly a quarter of their disposable income on health & wellness products—particularly food and fitness attire—but they also worry that the current healthcare system won't be able to support them as they age.

They are a decidedly different consumer than the Gen Xers and Boomers that preceded them—more diverse and more skeptical.

Yet far too often, marketers make the mistake of treating all 84 million as if they are one, single-minded consumer.

There's no question that Millennials have driven the explosion of social media and the unique immediacy of digital connection. CPGs have jumped on board this bandwagon and now invest significant dollars and resources to having a presence on social platforms.

But a study conducted in 2014 found that posts from brands on Twitter and Facebook reach just 2% of their followers—and a mere 0.07% interact with these posts.

Other studies have shown that a significant percentage of consumers say that the act of following a brand on Twitter or Facebook does not, in their minds, mean that they want to be marketed to by those brands.

Tapping into the Millennial market means going beyond the easy labels to truly understand what motivates their health & wellness behavior and purchases.

For example, Millennials don't view the digital world as a way for brands to have more direct access to them, but rather as a way for them to more easily track, learn about, and manage their health.

Millennials are looking for more information, more resources, and more data so they can take charge of their own health. They aren't looking for food brands or lifestyle brands or retailers to lead the way. They are looking to them for useful products, delivered with authenticity and transparency.

Marketers of healthy food brands would be well advised to look past the superficial when targeting Millennials and develop a bias for real, substantive value. Millennials have demonstrated their willingness to spend on health & wellness, now they are looking for the brands that truly meet their needs.

Photo credit: Eli Christman (modified)