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    Expert Column: How Millennial Families Are Driving the Seafood Market

    Tips for grocers to reel in health-conscious young families

    By Rietta Hohman

    The young American family is one of the main audiences for grocery store marketing. Store managers are always looking for new and inventive ways to cater to their eating trends – and the task isn’t easy. Comprised of millennial parents, young families are now more educated about nutrition, more conscious about budgets, and highly drawn to the visual appeal of food.

    This makes them the perfect audience for seafood marketing. Seafood offers an excellent source of lean protein and emerging science has touted the extensive health benefits of regularly eating seafood. The unique combination of omega-3 fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals found only in seafood are crucial for the cognitive development of children while they are very young and even while still in the womb. For this reason, the FDA has updated its guidelines and increased the recommended amount of seafood consumption by four times what it was before for pregnant women and young children.

    This bodes well for young families seeking healthier choices – including seafood – in grocery markets, not restaurants, because young families are now eating out much less and shifting their focus to preparing meals at home to save money. The seafood counter at a grocery store offers a unique opportunity to connect with these young families in a way that other departments cannot.

    Seafood's Appeal to Millennial Parents

    The average young American family is driven by "Millennial parent choices," which means there are going to be young parents looking at seafood as a main source of healthy protein. As such, grocers have an excellent opportunity to cater to this desire. But the question is: How can we best appeal to the seafood-seeking young families? The answer is surprisingly simple, but multifaceted:

    • Supply seafood low in mercury - Pregnant women and young children are the very demographic that has traditionally avoided seafood because of mercury concerns. Luckily, there are many low-mercury nutrient dense seafood options available on the market today. Little fish like herring, sardines, and anchovies are some of the healthiest seafood choices. They are chock full of omega-3s and super low in mercury, making them the perfect option for young families. Having these fish available at the seafood counter will demonstrate the commitment of your business to healthy families.
    • Have trained and knowledgeable staff - An increasing number of consumers, especially young mothers and mothers-to-be, are asking questions about their seafood: the origin, the sustainability, mercury content and health benefits. The person behind the seafood counter can often engage in the lengthiest interaction that a consumer may have with any of the staff of a grocery store. Having staff who are ready to answer customer questions is essential for establishing a positive social connection with young families. In the same way, an untrained staff member who does not engage with customers can impart a negative image for the entire store.
    • Stock sustainable choices - There has been a conspicuous decline in seafood consumption in the United States over the last several years, yet the sustainable seafood industry continues to grow. This means millennial consumers are exercising their buying power and making informed seafood choices. The expansion of information highways has increased the proportion of ethically conscious consumers who influence the choices of their families. It’s important to appeal to this mentality and show that your store cares about customer health and sustainability.
    • Keep a clean and artful seafood display case - This sounds intuitive, but it simply can’t be stressed enough. A young family on a trip to the grocery store will ignore a boring or messy seafood case. The vibrant hues of fresh seafood can be arranged beautifully with little effort, creating seafood case that does your marketing for you. Millennial parents live in a technology-driven, highly visual environment; they appreciate visually pleasing marketing and will be much more likely to approach a seafood counter that has been arranged with care.

    Young millennial families are increasingly dominating the consumer market. With the new national recommendations for seafood consumption and growing research on the health benefits of seafood, it’s the perfect time to evolve the way grocery stores present seafood options to their customers.

    Rietta Hohman is a Marine Science educator and writer for Pucci Foods' blog.

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