What millennials want
Here’s a shocker: Millennials like to take photographs of their food before they eat it and post them on social media. So what did you expect from the generation that grew up clutching iPhones, not stuffed animals?
Jean Shieh, marketing manager for Turlock, Calif.-based Sensient Natural Ingredients (SNI), sees a connection between millennials’ penchant for social media and what they eat. Millennials are all about experimenting with new ingredients and flavors and then letting their social media followers know what they are trying. And then their followers try what they tried, and the cycle continues.
“This is a generation that is not afraid of trying anything,” says Shieh, whose company produces natural ingredients to bring flavor, texture, color and nutrition to clean-label food products. “Millennials are all about having choices.”
But millennials are not seeking completely new flavors, Shieh says. Often, it’s about adding a new twist to a familiar flavor. Take caramel, for instance.
“Caramel is a sweet flavor that most people like,” Shieh says. “What we can do is add some heat to the sweet with something like habanero.”
The key is adding a hot flavor, whether from a chili pepper or a ghost pepper to a common flavor which could be sweet, bitter or sour, in small doses, so a product can be consumed multiple times and at a larger volume, Shieh says.
Mexican chocolate is another example of a product that fits well with millennials and could present an opportunity for private brands. It’s chocolate with a dose of zing — in this case chili pepper.
“It’s a familiar chocolate flavor but with a new twist,” Shieh says. “So it’s not completely out there.”