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    Feeding the Millennials

    Fresh, healthy food and experiences bring millennial shoppers to the prepared food aisle.

    A recent Business Insider article appears to credit millennials with “giving rise to a new concept: the ‘grocerant.’” While that might be giving millennials more credit than is deserved, grocerants’ strong following among this influential generation is great news.

    The Business Insider cites research from NPD Group’s recent report “A Generational Study: The Evolution of Eating,” which finds fresh, restaurant-quality food, chef-driven menus and instore experiences are reasons for millennials to visit and spend at grocerants. NPD reported growth for instore dining and takeout of prepared foods from grocers at nearly 30 percent since 2008, accounting for $10 billion of consumer spending in 2015. More than 40 percent of the U.S. population purchases prepared foods from grocery stores.

    While millennials use grocery stores less than other generational groups, NPD’s research suggests that retail foodservice is gaining traction with this demographic group. Grocery prepared foods are rated higher on freshness and quality, which are attributes particularly important to millennials. NPD notes that “freshness will remain an important factor in Millennials’ eating behaviors as they go through their life stages.”

    Grocerants also win over millennials when it comes to providing experiences. Wine-and-food pairings, cooking classes and instore dining are just a few ways to keep members of this demographic coming back for more. Speed-scratch proteins and prepared salads and side dishes give millennials at-home cooking experience, which they also want and need.

    Not all millennials are alike, and most researchers break this group into two age segments: younger (ages 18 to 24) and older (ages 25 to 34). Among the younger segments and the group to follow, Generation Z, student lifestyles also influence grocerant use.

    “It’s important to remember that a quarter to a half of students live off campus, and they aren’t regularly using campus dining services,” says Matt Fasano, account director for Fluent Group, a Boston-based college marketing and insights agency. “Grocery stores’ prepared food offerings are important to them. Today’s college students grew up with greater food awareness, yet not a lot of cooking skills. They are used to supermarkets with extensive prepared foods, like Whole Foods. They see these places having nutritious, convenient options with good value compared to eating out.”

    Grocerant-Ready Ideas:
    •    Specials and incentives for students with school ID cards
    •    Mini cooking competitions aimed at millennial cooks
    •    Sponsorship of high-profile campus events

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