How CPG Brands Can Tap Into The Millennial Mindset®

Posted by: Jeff Fromm

Millennials will spend $65 billion on consumer-packaged goods over the next decade, which makes them one of the most important cohorts for grocery stores and retailers. The challenge for most of them, however, is that the 80 million millennial consumers shop much differently than older generations.

For example, millennials have a trade up-trade down mentality, meaning they will spend a modest premium on brands they deem worthy, but buy private label brands when the brand has failed to create a reason enough value to warrant the premium. A millennial shopping cart will be stocked with a mixture of name brands and private labels on the same trip. For example, Target’s Archer Farms brand has experienced success with savvy millennial shoppers.

Another way millennials differ from older consumers is that they see shopping as a social activity, often doing so with friends and family. Lastly, they put greater value on shopping amenities. The study found that 60 percent of millennials rate deals as a key criteria compared to less than 50 percent for older generations. Millennials are also looking for exotic foods, child-friendly stores, samples of new foods to try, creative menu ideas and online ordering systems.

What does this mean?

CPG brands and retailers must redesign themselves and their processes to meet the demands of millennial shoppers. Below are four must-follow trends that will help CPGs connect with millennials.


Millennials have stronger connections with brands that promote sustainability in addition to corporate responsibility.  The combination of these two values encourages companies to implement viable business practices throughout the entire ecosystem. That includes suppliers, consumers, employees and more.  Consumers are at a point where it takes an incredible amount of effort to live a more sustainable life, so winning brands will show them how their products can help them in their efforts.

An example of this is packaging that allows consumers to only open and use what they need. Providing a quality seal for what they don’t use allows millennials to avoid being wasteful, an important value to this environmentally friendly demographic.


Unlike previous generations, millennials are more concerned with the added benefits a product can provide. These “extras” should be more emotionally charged to improve quality of life, energy, healthfulness, etc.  Because brands must now make a connection between the benefit and the product, the front product packaging should be a billboard of motivational statements that will showcase more benefits. The packaging for belVita’s Breakfast Biscuits reads, “Nutritious, sustained energy all morning.” The claim is explaining the emotional benefit of the product. It may also tout that it’s made with whole grains, but the leading message is about sustainable energy, which is a benefit most millennials desire.


Because millennials are obsessed with sharing their experiences with one another; they rely on social media sites, such as Instagram and Pinterest, to document their lives. Food is no exception; the increase of food-related content online has created a generation of “visual eaters” and is directly linked to the fact that millennials look at food preparation as an experience.

To appeal to the image-centric cohort, brands must incorporate photos into their design and packaging graphics.  Images of fresh ingredients could be used to illustrate unique and authentic flavor profiles, for example. Designing products that provide plate appeal and are easy to make is key to eliminating the disappoint felt when the package photo and the product inside don’t match.


Millennials are the first generation to grow up completely in a technological era, so it makes sense that these digital natives have created a “must have it now” mentality, especially when it comes to eating. #hangry: Enough said.

Although millennials want fresh foods, they often don’t have time to cook. That means they are willing to pay more for fresh, convenient food options. For example, refrigerated meals that appear fresher with healthier ingredients but can be prepared quickly will win with millennials.

One manufacturing company that embraced this trend was Tetra Pak when it designed cartons for soup. Millennials not only loved the reusable cartons, but they believe that soup from a carton is fresher than canned options. According to Tetra Pak data, nearly 3/4 of millennials said they would choose a leading brand of soup packaged in a carton over the identical soup in a can. The cartons helped to reverse a 10-year decline in soup purchases by consumers age 25 and under.

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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.