How Gen Y Eats: Culinary Trend Mapping Report

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Published Dec 24, 2008 | 67 Pages | Pub ID: LA2017190

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Hear that rumble? It’s the sound of a generation finding its voice. Generation Y — those born between 1980 and 2000, also known as Millennials — is the lion just now trying out its roar. With total membership as high as 78 million (our study focuses on the approximately 40 million consumers between the ages of 18 and 28), Millennials represent an irresistible customer pool — and not just because of their numbers. Call them Generation Me, Echo Boomers, whatever: more than any demographic in history, Millennials go beyond mere spending power. Weaned in a culture that’s urged them to define themselves as PC or Mac, Abercrombie & Fitch or H&M, In-N-Out or McDonald’s, Gen Y is the ultimate savvy, brand-sensitive consumer cluster.

Any manufacturer, retailer, or foodservice operator without a laser focus on this generation needs to play catch-up. Fast.

Early last year, CCD made a commitment to helping our clients understand this fascinating demographic inside and out. But getting an accurate bead on Millennials isn’t as easy as sitting in on a few focus groups. Young people respond to unique and sometimes complex drivers, completely different from those that motivate their parents and older sibs. As the most multicultural group in U.S. history, growing up in an amazing world of technological marvels and almost infinite choice, Millennials are the ultimate megaconsumers.

Our strategy was to create customized research and ideation methodologies to find out exactly what these sophisticated customers want from food and beverages: what they crave at home after powering up the gaming console, what they’re ordering when they go out, how they talk to each other about the edibles they find innovative, yummy or just plain cool. Then we orchestrated three rounds of research:

  • A quantitative online food and beverage attitude and behavior study

  • A customized qualitative study we dubbed “Kickin’ It” ™ sessions, held in a living room setting

  • More “Kickin’ It”™ sessions, this time in a restaurant setting

We combined our research findings with additional reporting and raw data to create a 360-degree portrait of a generation and its eating habits.

Note: the following report is a departure from our usual Trend Mapping study.

Instead of highlighting trends, we focus on essential traits of Millennials that shape their food and beverage choices — now and for decades to come. Our comments paint a comprehensive portrait of the Millennial eater:

  • Happy in The Third Place: how Gen Y eats and socializes in communal spaces, real or virtual

  • Gen Wired: the tech component of Millennial eating, from text ordering to the cybertainment restaurant

  • Thrill Aficionados: Gen Y’s love of heightened experiences, flavors that are complex and layered, with acidic zip

  • Mashup Artists: this is all about customization, especially in appreciating and (better yet) creating hybrid cuisines and flavors

  • Planet Savers: Gen Y’s social consciousness, an interest in local and organic, fair trade and vegetarian/vegan options even for omnivores

  • Amped and Gorgeous: Gen Y is nutraceutical and supplement savvy, having been raised by health-conscious Boomer parents

  • Authentic “Kewlness”: What makes some foods and products cool to Gen Y? Hint: look under the radar

All told, the following report offers plenty of ideas about the best ways for manufacturers, marketers and foodservice operators to thrive. Prepare yourself — this is one generation whose taste buds you’ll be tickling for a long, long time.

… The Culinary Trend Mapping Report is an indispensable tool for those whose job it is to stay abreast of what's hot - or what will be - in the food world!


Published bimonthly, the Culinary Trend Mapping Report is available for purchase as a single issue or a six-issue subscription.

Executive Summary
Why Gen Y?: Kimberly Egan
Executive Summary

Happy in The Third Place
Gen Wired
Thrill Aficionados
Mashup Artists
Planet Savers
Amped and Gorgeous
Authentic "Kewlness"

Chef Speak: CCD Chefs' Council Interview
Dwight Collins Mix Master: Satisfying Gen Y's restless appetite

Strategic Implications
Strategic Applications for Gen Y
Case Study: 'Wine is the New Black'

Source list