For many, “millennial” is the new buzzword in marketing. Every industry is attempting to reach and ultimately influence this demographic. Millennials, ages 18-34, represent a huge share of the marketplace. According to the Boston Consulting Group and Barkely, millennials have an estimated annual direct spending power of $200 billion. Their indirect spending power each year is approximately $500 billion, due to their strong influence on their parents. So if everyone else is “in” on the millennial game, should health professionals be focusing on this audience as well?
According to the IFIC Foundation research, the answer is “yes”. The IFIC Foundation conducted focus groups with millennials in 2011. We focused on millennial perceptions, understanding, and behaviors in regards to health and wellness. The insights gained from this research confirmed our hypothesis. Yes, millennials need evidence-based messages on how to maintain a healthful lifestyle. But, we have to think differently about reaching them with our messages. Here are a few highlights from the IFIC Foundation research:
Most millennials acknowledge the importance of eating healthfully. But they admit that they do not always eat as healthfully as they would like. The average grade they give the healthfulness of their eating is a C+.
Challenges to Eating More Healthfully
- Few millennials admit that a lack of knowledge is a barrier to eating healthfully. However, there do appear to be gaps in what millennials know about nutrition. For example, many aren’t sure what an appropriate serving size is or how many calories per day is appropriate for them.
- Besides their knowledge limitations, there are two key barriers to eating healthfully:
- Lack of time, and a need to eat things “on the go.” Millennials are looking for foods that are quick for them to get and that require minimal or no time to prepare. Even food packaging that facilitates eating on the run is helpful to them. They have difficulty fitting healthful cooking into their lifestyle.
- Lack of money. There is a strong perception among young consumers that it is more expensive to eat healthfully. They are likely spending more than necessary on pre-made and convenience foods, as well as dining out. However, they see bargain packaged goods and fast foods as ways to get full inexpensively.
Millennials do a lot of their eating with friends. So, it is not surprising that social dynamics present a challenge to more healthful eating. The IFIC Foundation partners with the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation’s Together Counts™ program to spread the message of living an active, healthy lifestyle to our nation’s youth. IFIC has also recently formed partnerships with a variety of popular apps and websites to create content for millennials to access and share. One example is the new “Food & Health” game on QuizUp, a top trivia game with over 75 million users. The IFIC Foundation created a quiz full of questions related to energy balance, protein, and functional foods. The goal of this partnership is getting users interested in nutrition and “stealthily” educating them in the process.
With proper guidance and sharing resources, we can communicate the truths about living a healthy, active lifestyle with our nation’s millennials.
Sarah Romotsky is a Registered Dietitian and is the Director of Health & Wellness at the International Food Information Council (IFIC) Foundation in Washington DC. In her role at the IFIC Foundation, Sarah is committed to promoting simple, meaningful, science-based communications about food and nutrition to empower consumers to make informed choices.
A native of California, Sarah received a BA in Mass Communications from University of California, Berkeley and later completed the Dietetic Program at San Francisco State University. Before obtaining her R.D. credentials, Sarah managed several national advertising campaigns at top advertising agencies and worked in marketing for a company devoted to creating new functional food products. Sarah completed her Dietetic Internship with Sodexo at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, DC. Her work as a Dietitian includes clinical nutrition and nutritional counseling, as well as supermarket and corporate wellness.
Sarah has held leadership positions in many organizations such as the District of Columbia Metro Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Passionate about both nutrition and fitness, she is a certified group ex instructor and has been teaching spinning classes for over eight years.
For more smart eating tips check out these other posts from Together Counts!