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Cash-strapped Millennials will splurge on food

Cash-strapped Millennials will splurge on food

Spicy quinoa salad with Chimichurri dressing and a cold-pressed apple, celery, beet, ginger, parsley, spinach and lemon concoction seem like a stretch for a chain that caters to the Slurpee and Big Bites crowd, but in an effort to appeal to discerning Millennials, 7-Eleven is giving these recipes — co-created with Tony Horton of P90X workout fame — a go in 104 L.A.-area stores.

“The goal was to create foods that were nutritious and delicious and available at very affordable prices,” according to the chain.

I’m hopeful that the outside-the-box test will be a success, as cash-strapped 20- and 30-somethings look to conveniently obtain fresh and healthy foods. Research conducted by Mintel on behalf of the Specialty Food Association bears this out.

Mintel asked online respondents about their purchases of specialty foods, defined as premium quality foods like high-end chocolate made by small or local companies, or foods with exotic or ethnic flavors, or the best ingredients available, or those that have ingredients that are unique. The researcher found:

  • Specialty consumers (those who have purchased specialty foods in the past six months) ages 18 to 24 gravitate to specialty snacks and treats and ready to eat foods in particular, and since they’re not cooking a lot, use specialty condiments to quickly dress up a meal.
  • Specialty consumers ages 25 to 34 have more of a healthful mindset, favor yogurts, ingredients like quinoa and lean toward prepared foods and use cooking sauces to dress up meals with simple ingredients.
  • Supermarkets are the prime location where consumers purchase specialty foods, but 18 to 34 year olds frequent the widest range of retail channels (think butchers and bakeries), value convenience, and are most likely to shop for specialty foods at food trucks.
  • More than half of specialty consumers use social media to talk or learn about food, with Pinterest the top site for consumers to connect with retailers and restaurants.

An interesting dynamic about value-seeking Millennials is that although they’ve been particularly hard hit by joblessness, student loan debt and other factors that negatively impact income, members are willing to pay a premium for specialty foods. The retailers who successfully delight them with value-rich, inventive fare, stand not only to benefit from their growing spending power, but may even convert an evangelist for their brand.

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