Friday, November 27, 2015

Did you have Froot Loops for breakfast this morning?

Maybe you just went for the leftover turkey.   But according to Kellogg's their core cereal brands, especially Froot Loops, are experiencing an upward trend in 2015, and in the past 4 weeks in particular. (Lukovitz, 2015)

Why?  You guessed it.  Millennials love cereal.  In fact, they purchase more cereal than any other generation.  But they aren't necessarily eating it at breakfast.  30 - 36% of cereal consumption takes place at other times of the day.  Convenient snacking is part of the appeal, but apparently cereal for dinner is making a comeback.  (I had lots of Boomer friends who did that in the 80's.)

I'm having a little trouble reconciling this trend with what I thought was a trend toward a more natural approach to eating.  Clearly anything that comes in a bag, box, or can is processed. 

So what gives?  Are Millennials not as interested in health as they claim to be?  Or do they see eating Froot Loops as a better alternative than potato chips?  And is it?

What about you?  Are you a cereal eater?  When?

Lukovitz, K. (2015, November 25)  Kellogg Reports Its US Cereal Sales Uptrending.  Retrieved November 27, 2015, from

Friday, November 20, 2015

Does Gen Z care more about social proof than Millennials do?

Who is Gen Z?  That would be those born between 1995 and 2010 -- currently ages 5 - 20.  And, while they are already quite good at pestering their parents for what they want, they will soon have incomes of their own to spend.  So it's worth considering how their preferences are differing from those of their predecessors.

Not surprisingly there seems to be a bit of a backlash -- with Gen Zer's preferring in-person interactions to online.  (Levit, 2015)  And perhaps even demonstrating a willingness to sacrifice career ambitions for family.  I'm sure that Indra Nooyi, CEO of Pepsi, was shocked when her kids told her "We grew up with a mom who was never there."  But given that perspective,  it makes sense that they would seek a different alternative. (Feintzeig, 2015)

Two other things caught my eye.  The first is that they like people they can relate to, not celebrities, so 32% say YouTube is their favorite form of social media.

The second is that they need validation for every purchase they make.  Apparently something isn't good until someone else "likes" it.  (Mahoney, 2015) 

I suspect such a heavy reliance on social proof is the direct result of growing up with social media.  What do you think?  How important is social proof in your decision-making process?  Does it vary by category?  Do other age groups care more than you do?  Or is this just another form of "authority" featuring peers instead of celebrities, enabling short cuts to avoid decision fatigue?

And what about the other observations?  Are the Gen Zs that you know eager to have in-person interactions?  Are they potential stay-at-home parents?

Levit, A. (2015, March 29)  Make Way for Generation Z.  Retrieved November 20, 2015, from

Feintzeig, R. & Rexrode, C. (2015, October 1) Still a Long Road To Gender Equality.  Retrieved November 20, 2015, from

Mahoney, S. (2015, November 20)  Gen Z Basics Include Personalization First, Validation Second.  Retrieved November 20, 2015, from

Friday, November 13, 2015

What does "natural" mean to you?

The FDA (Food & Drug Administration) surprised everyone this week by announcing that they are now taking comments on the use of the term "natural" on food labeling.  It's about time.   

The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) who is tasked with the job of monitoring false advertising has been proven so ineffectual that people began reaching out directly to the courts years ago.  Now according to the FDA they have been asked to weigh in by judges to provide guidelines for outstanding cases.

So what does natural mean?  In 1993, the FDA issued non-binding guidance saying "natural means that nothing artificial or synthetic (including all color additives regardless of source) has been included in, or has been added to, a food that would not normally be expected in that food."

But that doesn't take into consideration GMO's and use of pesticides, nor processing methods such as thermal technologies, pasteurization or irradiation.  

Since Mintel reported last year that two-thirds of US adults think foods labeled "natural" are healthy, and people are willing to pay more for foods perceived as healthy, it's an important marketing tool. 

The Food Labeling Modernization Act, currently in committee, would prohibit the use of the word natural for any food that includes a synthesized ingredient. But the Grocery Manufacturers Association has stated its intention to push the FDA to define natural as inclusive of GMO ingredients.  Given that most staple crops in the US (i.e. corn, soybeans and beet sugar) are grown from GM seed, that ship may have already sailed. (Lukovitz, 2015)

So what do you think?  Are you buying foods labeled as "natural?"  And paying more for them?  What does the term mean to you?  What should it mean?  Where does GMO fit in?

Lukovitz, K. (2015, November 11)  Surprise: FDA To Review Use Of 'Natural' Food Claim.  Retrieved November 12, 2015, from

Friday, November 6, 2015

Do you want fun facts about your food, or recipes? It depends. How old are you?

According to a new study by, Women under 35 want fun facts and stories, and conversation starting questions, in their social media food content, while women over 35 want coupons and recipes.

Millennials are also more likely to be influenced by reviews from knowledgeable people than are women 35+.  And, Millennials are significantly more likely to post content to brand/company pages to express satisfaction, make a product suggestion or to try to get a special offer. (Freud, 2015)

So what do you think?  Does this ring true?  Why do you think Millennials are behaving this way?  And how does their behavior relate to the research that we've been discussing?

Freud, A. (2015, October 30)  One-Size-Fits-All Doesn't work for Millennial Women: Food on #Fleek.  Retrieved November 5, 2015, from