What Does Millennial Influence Mean for the Confections Category?

Posted by: Jeff Fromm

Indulgence doesn’t lead to the same end result of self-reward as it used to for consumers. Instead, today’s consumers often face an onslaught of guilt and shame at the thought of eating what isn’t likely “good” for their health or made from the “right” ingredients.

This is a direct result of the influence of Millennials across generations. More than any other consumer group before them, Millennials are impacting the perceptions, expectations and purchasing behaviors of surrounding generations. It is evident across the market, from consumer attitudes in-store or online to lifestyle choices. For example, a 50-year-old woman may not be a Millennial as defined by her age, but she is just as dedicated to tracking her steps and daily yoga workout on her Apple Watch as her 25-year-old daughter. This influence is what we refer to as the Millennial Mindset, and its effects are majorly impacting the market across business verticals.

This is no different when considering the confections category.

However, quantifying this Millennial impact and relating it to sales growth and brand preference has been a challenge for many brands in the category, as seen by the amount of small disruptor brands cropping up. This means that now is the time for staple brands to determine how to leverage the Millennial Mindset to find the right actionable steps to take to achieve success in a market that is ripe for disruption and innovation.

What is the Millennial Mindset?

Created with the difficulty of relating Millennial impact to sales and brand preference, the Millennial Mindset took Millennial characteristics and extended them to the general population between 18 and 65. From this process, six overarching themes that influence consumer purchase were discovered: Social Circle, Self, Innovative, Trusted, Purposeful and Accessible. Each play their own unique role.

Social Circle: This dimension refers to the team of advisors that modern consumers have built for themselves, stemming from social networks to personal relationships. These advisors offer insights, recommendations and opinions on all product decisions at hand. Brands that build such a social circle among consumers will create a network of brand fans that drive profits.

Self: Brands that reflect the reality of customer lifestyles have a greater likelihood of increased performance because the consumer can see himself or herself in the brand. When a consumer feels that a brand understands them, recognizes them for who they are and provides outlets for further self-exploration, they offer loyalty.

Innovative: Modern consumers crave the novelty, efficiency and quality that come with product innovation and advances. They seek out the brands that they identify as innovative based on their constant effort to improve and reinvent themselves in addition to their effort to make consumers’ lives easier and, therefore, better.

Trusted: Thanks to the far reaches of the internet, today’s consumers will find out about and get to the bottom of anything that pops up about a brand — positive or negative. As a result, brands are faced with an expectation to be authentic and transparent.

Purposeful: Millennials and all of the consumer groups they influence are seeking brands that add goodness to the world and commit to making our world a better place for all. Brands are required to acknowledge the new triple threat bottom line that exists: place, planet and profit.

Accessible: No matter what, consumers are not interested in brands that are hard to find and don’t easily fit into their lifestyles. Brands that create more ways for consumers to simplify their lives are more likely to win with modern consumers.

What does it mean for brands?

It’s important for brands in the confection category to use the Mindset in a way that makes the most sense for their brands and products. In the case of chocolate confections brands, those with higher Millennial Mindset scores command a greater share of customer spend in the category and thus have greater loyalty in comparison to the brands that score lower.

This means that confection brands need to truly understand the Mindset dimensions to determine where they need to play to find the brand awareness and brand share that they seek.

After all, we are living in an entirely new consumer market. It isn’t enough anymore to just have a great tasting or accessible product. Confection brands today must identify with the right group of like-minded consumers who may range in demographics and backgrounds but who are within the same overarching Mindset. The brands that do this will win.

About Jeff Fromm

Although not a Millennial as defined by his age, Jeff Fromm is the Millennial Marketing Guy. Jeff is President of FutureCast, a marketing consultancy that specializes in Millennial trends, and is a contributing writer at...See Jeff's full bio.