Canadian Packaging

Youthquake rocking the status quo

George Guidoni   

General Amazon Campbell Soup General Mills google Hershey Millennial Morning Consult Netflix Pixar Sony YouTube

Canadian Packaging editor George Guidoni reflects on the consumer trends of today's Millennials

With all due apologies to the great wordsmith Bernard Shaw for taking a little creative license with one of his many eternal witticisms, it really is a great pity to see youth being so wasted on young people in this day and age.

It is in fact one of life’s bigger ironies that today’s aging Baby Boomers, raised in the heyday of profoundly liberating societal transformation throughout the Western World, are now the most socially conservative
segment of the North American population.

Which really makes one wonder what things will be like when today’s Millennials, raised and schooled in a world so dominated by social media and other trappings of the Internet Age, ultimately morph into the new future ruling class.

The are many leading futurists offering some fascinating hypothetical scenarios on how it may all play out, but if the current trends in today’s global retail and CPG (consumer packaged goods) manufacturing
industries keep trending as they are, the word “disruption” will be a quaint understatement of trying to sum up the game-changing paradigm shifts to come.


It’s no secret that most of today’s leading CPG brand-owners are struggling mightily to maintain their once unassailable market share in the Millennialcentric marketplace driven more by social media influencers than traditional advertising and marketing strategies that once served these companies so well.

Nowhere is this new normal more readily apparent than in the so-called Big Food sector, where former blue chip stalwarts General Mills, Campbell Soup, Hershey and Pepsi are all bleeding market share and stock valuation as their legacy brands continue to flounder—despite intense efforts to rejuvenate them through countless packaging makeovers centered on recreating their once ‘cool’ vibes.

Alas, working too hard at being cool rarely results in a genuinely cool end product—at least not in a population segment displaying more affinity for the likes of Red Bull and Monster energy drinks than the
aforementioned Pepsi and Coca-Cola.

According to a recent survey conducted by the U.S.-based Morning Consult, the five brands most adored by today’s young adults, in descending order, are YouTube, Google, Netflix, Amazon and Sony,
with Hershey the sole food company in the Top 10 in a tie for sixth with Pixar.

According to Morning Consult’s chief executive officer Michael Ramlet, “Millennials expect more from brands. From the shoes they wear to the coffee they Instagram, brand choices are increasingly used to project values in public and online.”

As children of the Great Recession, Millennials are an extremely financially cautious bunch that places more value on access to product than outright ownership of it, Ramlet points out, hence the rapid emerge of the so-called sharing economy.

“Millennials prefer distinctive shopping opportunities, and derive value from the experiential,” Ramlet asserts. “Accustomed to perfectly tailored social media feeds, they expect retailers to meet their needs
with precision.”

So far, it seems, those retailers are not yet up to the task, but that’s not a reason or an excuse to stop trying. There’s simply too much at stake not to.


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