grocery store aisle consumer packaged goods
Millennials have increasing influence on the consumer packaged goods market. How can companies win over these important buyers?
Image source: Flickr CC user Nicola

Move over, Baby Boomer generation. Your command of the consumer buying market has met a new competitor. Say hello to the Millennial generation. You might be familiar with the group — some are your own children.

Millennials make up roughly 25% of the U.S. population, which is not an insignificant number. As a result, consumer packaged goods companies are turning their attention toward capturing this influential demographic’s buying dollars. Last month, Nielsen announced the winners of its 2015 Breakthrough Innovation Award, which looks at CPGs that have introduced game-changing innovation and transformed them into enduring sales. Among the winners are Mountain Dew Kickstart, which targets millennials looking for a morning boost not supplied by coffee or energy drinks, and Lunchables Upstart, which is geared toward consumers nostalgic for the Lunchables of their childhood without sacrificing larger appetites and maturity. Clearly, the key to fueling innovation in the CPG market is targeting younger generations.

Innovating for New Generations within the Consumer Packaged Goods Industry

Winning the Millennial generation requires an understanding of the group. They’re not simply a younger version of their parents. Their concerns and buying patterns are different. Consumer packaged goods firms must take this into account when developing products. In conjunction with an electronic lab notebook (ELN), here are a few innovation avenues available to them:

  • Eco-friendliness and sustainability: Millennials grew up in an era in which global warming and environmental conservation permeated the public consciousness. Witness the push for reusable shopping bags to replace plastic ones. In some localities where I live, grocery stores charge consumers for those plastic bags, further encouraging the shift. Likewise, CPG firms can meet this need by minimizing product packaging. Younger generations prize stripped down, no-fuss containers with less waste. Who has time for bulky packaging that is ten times that size of the item contained within? The flexibility of an ELN allows users to attach PDFs and other multimedia file formats to a project. In addition to the quantitative results of the research and development process, you can also include design ideas for the final product’s packaging.
  • Healthy and Beneficial: In addition to the product itself, millennials are interested in the benefits it may provide. Does it promise increased energy, like the previously mentioned Mountain Dew Kickstart? Is it made with whole grains, which are connected to both health benefits and less artificial processing? Trends point to millennials desiring products touting healthy, clean living. Consider at the popularity of 100-calorie snacks. Calorie intake is linked to weight management but given the obesity epidemic, managing portions and serving sizes is easier said than done. But with calorie-restricted snacks, the thought process has already been done for the consumer. That saves time and effort, both of which are crucial resources for the millennial. In developing products, consumer packaged goods laboratories can use an ELN to find the ingredients and benefits to highlight in their packaging and marketing. The searching and indexing capabilities make this a snap.
  • Convenience and Freshness: Millennials often have conflicting preferences. They want fresh food, but they don’t necessarily want — or know how — to prepare it. As much as it pains me to admit, a good number of my friends rely on take-out and pre-packaged foods to feed themselves. I’m the oddity because I usually prepare meals from scratch. So for millennials like my friends, refrigerated meals that are fresher than canned or freeze-dried options and that they can prepare just as quickly after work are a win.

Developing these kinds of CPG foods require collaboration among researchers. ELNs have sharing tools that allow communication between scientists even if they work different shifts or different laboratories. Users can be notified when a developmental step is completed or results can be emailed.

Innovation in the consumer packaged goods sector can be difficult due to competition. But as the Millennial generation grows in buying power and influence, so does opportunity. Because their demographic exhibits different buying patterns than older generations, CPG firms can design products that appeal to those tastes. Sustainability, health benefits, and convenience are only a few of the ways to do so.

Are you interested in learning how an electronic lab notebook can help your CPG laboratory develop products for the next generation of buyers? Please contact us today to learn more about the BIOVIA Notebook.