How to Attract the New “Foodie Millennial” Through In-Store Ethnic Offerings and Experiences

September 07, 2017


By Greg Feinberg, President – Aisle 9 – as originally published in The Shelby Report, September 2017 Issue

Millennials are more “multicultural” than any previous generation. In fact, 71% of all Millennials say they appreciate the influence of other cultures on the American way of life. Millennials are a globally oriented generation; they are well-traveled and have a high-level of comfort with different cultures. Because of this, they seek international foods and flavors and value authenticity when eating ethnic food.

By 2017, Millennials will have the power to outspend the Boomer generation; which is why paying attention to their attitudes and behaviors towards food is now more important than ever. With the majority of Millennials seeking exotic foods, when you market to the Hispanic Millennial, the balance of the Foodie Millennials will follow. There are 15 million Hispanic Millennials in the U.S. that currently account for 21% of the total Millennial population and will grow to 23% by 2020, due to Millennial-aged Hispanic immigrants entering the country. Moreover, Hispanic Millennials are the largest sector of the Hispanic population (65%). These two facts taken together demonstrate that Hispanic Millennials can influence both mainstream eating attitudes and those of the general Hispanic population.

Experiences, not brands

The Hispanic Millennials are attracted to experiences, not brands. They will shop at either an ethnic or mainstream store if that store offers the products they want. The good news is that the ethnic stores do not hold a monopoly on exotic foods. Mainstream grocers can compete for the Foodie Millennials. The bad news is that mainstream grocers must go further than their current diversity programs to attract and retain these prized shoppers.

It is well documented that Millennials spend their money on experiences, not products. They are world travelers and would rather travel than purchase luxury items, cars or houses. Through their travels, food becomes an experience. When they shop at home, they are looking to duplicate their experiences from abroad. Whether they seek ethnic food because of their heritage or if they are looking to enjoy the experience of other cultures, these multi-cultural, Foodie Millennials are the hot consumers you want to attract. If you can attract the Hispanic Millennial, his or her non-Hispanic Millennial friends will follow.

Ethnic products not enough

“Diversity programs” that look for ethnic products or minority-owned brands do not go far enough to capture the Millennial shopper, whether Hispanic, Asian or all others. The Foodie Millennials are looking for a sense of culture and connection when shopping for ethnic foods. They demand authenticity and can quickly distinguish big corporate brands disguised as ethnic foods. They are also engaged in the shopping experience. In other words, if you do not marry your diversity program with in-store experiences, you will not attract the clients you seek. At Northgate Markets, one of the highest grossing supermarket chains in the country, over 50% of the store is dedicated to experiential departments and grab & go products. Among other things, they make fresh tortillas throughout the day. Northgate is also expanding its fresh, natural and organic products which are placed in-line with other brands. Northgate is focusing on quality and experience. Their premiere stores are not focused on price, and as a result, they are making more margin by attracting these Foodie Millennials. Currently, Northgate Markets sell 3 – 4x the average supermarket per store. Walk the aisles on any day and you will see the multiples of shoppers at these stores, both Hispanic and non-Hispanic.

Millennials are one of the prized consumer segments for the retail grocery industry. They are attracted to and will travel farther for shopping experiences that connect them to their homeland or a fabulous trip. The days of a simple “Hispanic or Asian Aisle” are gone. But the high-value Millennial shoppers will Uber to your store if you can couple your diversity program with in-store shopping experiences that capture international cultures.   

It’s time for your product to start jumping off the shelf and into the shopping cart of your consumer, Millennial or otherwise. Ernest’s 70+ years of expertise in packaging coupled with Aisle 9’s tenacity to get your product in front of your target demographic is the dream team you’ve been waiting for.  We implement design that is tailor-made to catch the eye of your consumer, backed by structural integrity to ensure it arrives at its destination undamaged. Give us a call to see how we’ll go the distance and set you up with success in food packaging.

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