Pointing to sugar amount on nutrition facts label
Millennial consumers are more worried about the total amount of sugar in their diet than specific sweeteners.

WASHINGTON — The level of stratification that exists within the millennial demographic is significant, according to research conducted by Ipsos and Buzzfeed and funded by the Corn Refiners Association. The population, which includes consumers between the ages of 18 to 34, features people at different life stages who view food, nutrition and ingredients from very different perspectives.

Sara Martens, The MSR Group
Sara Martens, v.p. of the MSR Group

“Until now, many studies have made sweeping generalizations about millennials,” said Sara Martens, vice-president of the MSR Group. “This study picks up where others left off; proving millennials are not a monolith. It provides game-changing insights for food and beverage brands looking to engage with the right millennial segment, at the right time, with the right message.”

The study, titled “GenerationWhy,” breaks down millennials into four categories: traditionalist (37%), bon vivant (23%), purist (19%) and balance seeker (16%). Traditionalists, which is the largest category of the four, is the least likely to look at nutrition labels regularly. Consumers in this category are more concerned about how food tastes and what it costs than trying new things.

The bon vivant tends to skew younger within the millennial demographic and is more likely to eat at restaurants. These consumers are more likely to avoid specific foods and ingredients.

The purist segment features those consumers who are more likely to avoid specific foods and ingredients. Taste is a high priority as is health.

Balance seekers were identified as the group most likely to read nutrition labels regularly. This segment of millennial consumers view food from a holistic perspective and tend not to avoid specific ingredients.

Young millennial woman reading nutrition label on food
Millennials considered balance seekers are most likely to read nutrition labels regularly.

The study also delved into the eating preferences of younger and older millennials and compared them to the preferences of consumers who fall into generation X and baby boomers. The data showed older millennials, those between the ages of 26 to 34, read nutritional labels more than gen X and baby boomers, while younger millennials read fewer labels. However, both younger and older millennials are more concerned about artificial ingredients than sweeteners than the other demographics.

Across generations and millennial segments, the study found consumers are still more concerned about total sugars than specific types. Overall, nearly five times as many consumers expressed concern for total sugars over specific ingredients. Even the millennial segment most prone to avoid high-fructose corn syrup is nearly seven more times likely to avoid total sugars, according to the study.

“Over the past several years, I’ve observed a common thread in the consumer research around sweeteners, and this study is no different,” Ms. Martens said. “At the end of the day, consumers are much more concerned with reducing total sugars than avoiding specific sweetener types.”