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Are YEMPs on your radar?

Young educated millennial parents are a large group that’s influencing eating habits

There is no doubt that becoming a parent influences an individual’s needs, priorities and food choices—perhaps more than any other life milestone. Thus, as a growing segment of millennials approach parenthood, this segment’s eating and drinking decisions will be critically important to the future of food purchasing and consumption.

As with most generations, cultural, social and economic forces have impacted and shaped the millennial perspective on parenting. Millennial parents now represent 12% of the population (versus 8% in 2014) and the sheer size and sphere of their influence is expected to more than double over the next decade.

As a group, millennial parents are highly educated and information-driven. Simply put, young educated millennial parents (YEMPs) place a greater value than previous generations on “knowing.” Whether it’s researching how their food is produced, knowing what’s new and trendy, or a commitment to sustainability, YEMPs are actively engaged and mindful of making good decisions for themselves and their young families.

In the Canada CHATS 2018 Trends Report, Ipsos looked at the differentiating needs and habits within this growing population segment. Here are some factors to consider:

With more than three-quarters (78%) of millennial parents in the workforce full time, shopping, meal preparation and cooking duties are often shared between both parents. According to CHATS, almost half (49%) of principal grocery shoppers in these households are male, and males engage in the preparation of more than a third of all meal occasions (38%).

YEMPs prioritize the needs and wants of their kids by increasingly engaging and involving them in meal decision-making activities rather than dictating food choices.

Given the voracious snacking behaviour of kids under the age of 13, it is not surprising that their parents are nibblers as well, exposing a significant opportunity to target snacking. YEMPs are also over-developed in their desire for something new, different and authentic.

Although YEMPs regularly report time constraints in deciding what to eat, they do engage in their fair share of “scratch” cooking.

A share of these homemade meal preparation habits can be tied to batch cooking—one-time preparation to support multiple eating occasions. This growing segment is also over-developed when it comes to leveraging meal kits and visiting restaurants. Though convenience is a main driver of item choice, YEMPs’ appetite for quick and easy solutions is equally matched by their unwillingness to sacrifice other priorities associated with a growing list of dietary restrictions and sensitivities.

YEMPs’ food and beverage choices emphasize premium items with high quality, fewer and simpler ingredients, and a focus on fresh. YEMPs are also over-developed for consumption of organic items, particularly where there is a presence of very young children.

Almost half of YEMP decisions (49%) about how to prepare a food or beverage item are sourced online, led by mobile access. Digital behaviour influences a third of YEMP decisions about what to eat and drink, again confirming the importance for industry players to have a digital presence.

YEMPs today demand a higher-quality experience than what they grew up with, for both themselves and their children. These millennial parents are elevating the importance of foods in everyday life, prioritizing discovery, sharing and wellness benefits.

While companies should make sure to keep all demographics in mind when marketing and designing products and services, YEMPs are a huge cohort and an influencer group of consumers who are not only shaping choices for future generations but are also increasingly setting the bar for other generations’ habits around them.

This article appeared in Canadian Grocer’s February 2019 issue.

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