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Tomorrow’s consumer: opportunity awaits

The complex world of food and drink for 16-20 year olds was the focus of Mintel’s spring/summer Trends Update.

It zoned in on the perspective of “the iGeneration” – tomorrow’s consumers – to forecast the future of the sector. Here are our top five opportunities that we predict will have a major impact.

1. Food for the body, food for the soul

The trend

Increasingly, this group is interested in the impact food can have functionally, emotionally and physically; for example, 2/3 of consumers agree that what you eat directly impacts emotional wellbeing. And because we can now gather data on such a granular level, brands have the opportunity to tailor their products to consumers’ unique needs, or even their genetics.

The proof

Monarch Airlines’ in-flight menu, which is designed to encourage relaxation by using ingredients such as lavender and green tea. Taking it one step further, Gatorade is developing a wearable patch for athletes that analyses sweat by monitoring levels of chloride and electrolytes, with a view to predicting which Gatorade product is best suited to the wearer’s hydration needs.

2. Supermarket Sensei

The trend

A whopping 43% of US 16-20 year olds say that they consider supermarkets a reliable source of information on health and wellbeing, highlighting the potential for supermarkets to position themselves as food experts.

The proof

Waitrose’s in-store ‘Healthy Eating Specialists’, who advise customers on their groceries. Maybe we’ll see ‘Mood Food Specialists’ appearing in stores soon…

3. Ethical eating

The trend

A growing concern for this demographic is the ethics behind their food. They’re willing to do the research into where their food is coming from, and can smell dishonesty from a mile away. Brands are answering by increasing transparency measures and investing in ways to allow customers to understand the journey behind their products.

The proof

M&S’s new beef traceability campaign, which allows customers to trace the origin of their beef back to the farm and even the cow it came from.

4. The food rebellion

The trend

Mintel has identified that 16-18 year olds use food and drink as a means to rebel. While traditionally teenagers have sought a sense of adulthood in consuming alcohol, this new generation is taking a different route, causing a revolution in mocktails, non-alocholic beers and low-alcohol drinks.

The proof

Bars in the US have reacted by adapting ‘Dry January’ to ‘Mocktail Month’, providing opportunities for both soft drinks producers and alcohol brands in new product development.

5. Foodertainment

The trend

A big opportunity for brands relies on the convergence between entertainment and food and drink, due to their complementary nature (think of the phenomenal success of “The Great British Bake Off”). However, there is still a stark lack of food content on the primary channel for this group: YouTube. Mintel highlighted the opportunity between this, and the need for role models that both represent this age group’s lack of cooking skills and celebrate the trials and tribulations of making food.

The proof

Shows like Netflix’s “Nailed It” and YouTube’s “Bad Canteen” provide brands with the opportunity to resonate with this audience, while placing their brand directly on their radar.

More than ever before, brands can’t afford to ignore potential opportunities – because it’s these opportunities that will completely redefine how we consume. Instead, it’s brands that keep looking ahead who can change the industry forever and reap the rewards. We have the chance at McCann to be right at the coalface, creating change with different clients every day, looking beyond requests to real needs – and to how the solutions we come up with today will benefit our clients long into the future. So which one will you be: the distruptor or the one that’s left behind?

Fiona Lawlor Beirne is Research and Insights Manager at McCann Dublin.

Image sources:

1. Gatorade sweat monitoring patch published on, 20th March 2018

2. Waitrose Healthy Eating Specialist published on, 19th April 2018

3. Mocktails published by on 5th January 2107

4. Bad Canteen published on, 1st February 2018

5. Nailed It by Netflix published on, 11th March 2018