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Millennials are an elusive lot. These 20- to 35-year-olds have varying tastes and preferences and have become one of the most powerful purchasing groups in America. Around 77 million consumers, almost 25 percent of the U.S. population, are classified as millennials. This is a massive demographic that rivals the other big generational group: baby boomers.

However, little is understood about millennials by seafood marketers, in part because this group is a walking contradiction. Most millennials are interested in buying products that they consider to be healthful and environmentally friendly, including local and sustainable foods, yet they are not always willing to pay for these premium items. Millennials are looking for value more than any other generation. They are newest to the workforce and are one of the groups “hit hardest by the economic downturn,” said Sherry Frey, executive VP of Nielsen Perishables Group. “They tend to buy lower-priced seafood items as well as more convenient/value-added options.”

Millennials are also more tech-savvy and convenience-minded than their Generation X and baby boomer predecessors. While this makes them open to marketing via social media and buying convenient foods at supermarkets, C-stores, restaurants and other outlets, they also are known for having short attention spans.

Fortunately for seafood manufacturers and restaurants, millennials have adventurous taste buds. Seafood is already a more adventurous item for many shoppers to buy. Retailers and restaurants that accompany their seafood dishes with unique, worldly flavors will likely succeed.

Baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964), meanwhile, are also looking for exciting new flavors and — with their desire to eat healthier foods than other groups — are the other most important demographic group for seafood marketers.

“Compared to total shoppers, both boomers and millennials are more engaged with the seafood department, with higher household penetration, more trips and a larger spend per trip,” Frey said.

Click here to read the full story that ran in the April issue of SeaFood Business >

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