Younger consumer generations are enthusiastic customers of commercially baked goods, but their preferences often differ from those of older shoppers.
New research delves into these consumers’ purchase habits to provide guidance to the baking industry. The insights focus on topics including convenience, nutrition, sampling, and portion size.
The data is based on national research from the American Bakers Association and The Center for Generational Kinetics that highlights shopper attitudes. It focuses on Millennials (born between 1987 and 1995) and Gen Z (born after 1996).
The report makes clear why the research is needed. “What is known about baked goods consumers is largely focused on older shoppers rather than younger ones. This collaborative study is a response to this research gap in the baked goods industry.”
Here are five strategies cited for driving engagement with younger consumers.
1. Prioritize convenience
Younger consumers express interest in convenience when it comes to baked goods. This includes a preference for having baked goods included in meal kits. They especially favor sweet baked goods, tortillas, rolls, buns, bread, and flatbread for this purpose.
“Interestingly, the inclusion of baked goods in meal kits is especially appealing to younger Millennials (presently 23 – 30 years old),” according to the report. “This group rated the inclusion of baked goods in meal kits higher than either Gen Z or older Millennials, regardless of the type of baked good.”
As an example, 65% of younger Millennials favor having bread included in meal kits, compared to 58% of both older Millennials and Gen Z.
2. Address labels and nutrition cues
Millennials and Gen Z consumers focus on labels and nutrition cues. “They believe baked goods provide health benefits associated with freshness, whole grains, and natural ingredients,” the report said.
It may be surprising that 78% of Gen Z and Millennials include carbs as part of their regular diet, which makes it even more important to consider health descriptions when marketing baked goods.
3. Enable trial and sampling with a digital twist
One-third of Millennials and Gen Z consumers say they would purchase more baked items if they could sample the product in advance. Close to 40% say tasting a new or different bread would likely drive them to buy it. Since most of these consumers still shop in conventional grocery stores, enabling in-store taste testing has the potential to boost sales. The sampling need not be limited to physical store experiences, the report said.
“Utilize and revive the old-fashioned taste test by creating a crossover experience, whereby the physical and digital overlap, allowing in-store consumers not only to taste but also simultaneously immerse them in the digital world with online coupons, online contests, selfie spots at the display, and prompts to post and tag the company.”
4. Develop strategies for portion sizes and waste
The research emphasized the importance of focusing on portion size and waste. “More than half of Millennials and Gen Z would buy more baked goods in smaller sizes,” the report said. “At the same time, the Number One reason for not buying bread is concern about waste.”
The report identified an opportunity to mitigate the risks by “strategizing portion sizes and bundling single-serve portions within larger packaging.”
5. Enable Online Ordering Capabilities
Younger Millennials “indicate preferences for online ordering and are highly responsive to visual cues, such as product images, meal images, and social media,” the report said.
The research found that Millennials outpace Gen Z in the likelihood to include baked goods in online grocery orders. Categories analyzed included sweet baked goods, bread, baked bars, and crackers.
Guarantees of freshness and product integrity were identified as drivers for boosting online bread sales, especially for Millennials and shoppers who are parents. Other factors with the potential to boost online bread sales include online coupons, offering products that can’t be found in local grocery stores, and reviews and ratings by “real consumers.”