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A Look at 2021 MegaTrends #1: Generation Me

Understanding your target consumers is essential to connecting with them and delivering products that meet their needs.  Here we look at the key differences among generational segments—known as microgenerations—and what this means for food and beverage companies.

What are Microgenerations?

While companies often have a strong understanding of the major differences among the Boomer, Gen X, Millennial, and Gen Z generations, they can miss some important differences within the generations. Breaking each generation down into microgenerations reveals these differences in preferences, expectations, and behaviors, allowing for more targeted and effective marketing.

Microgeneration Breakdown

Generation Microgeneration (age in years)
BOOMERS Leading Boomers (67-75)
  Neo Boomers (57-66)
GEN X Gen XS (48-56)
  Gen Xenos (40-47)
MILLENNIALS Pro Millennial (34-39)
  Mid Millennial (28-33)
  Nouveau Millennial (23-27)
GEN Z Z Tribe (13-22)
  Z Alpha (0-13)

(Source: Adapted from TrendHunter, Future Festival, December 2019)

Boomers can be broken down into the older Leading Boomers and the younger Neo Boomers. Gen X can also be separated into two microgenerations—Gen XS and Gen Xenos—which differ not only by age group but by their experiences growing up. The Millennial generation is characterized by three microgenerations— Pro, Mid, and Nouveau Millennials—based on the broad differences found in this group. Gen Z is divided into Z Tribe and the younger Z Alpha, the children of today.

Unique Differences Among Microgenerations

Boomers

As the oldest of the Boomer microgenerations, Leading Boomers consider healthy aging a priority. Leading Boomers are also working for a sense of self and seeking new experiences. Neo Boomers, by contrast, are looking to grow, working for a sense of caretaking, and seeking repose. Working smart is also important to Neo Boomers, who have typically not yet retired from the workforce.

Gen X

Within Gen X, we also see important differences. For example, Gen XS tends to be motivated more by a sense of duty, compared with the younger Gen Xenos, a segment more motivated by accomplishment. Further along in career and family building, Gen XS is interested in leading and enacting change, values work/life balance, and enjoys caretaking. Members of Gen Xenos seek independence, are ready to leave and create something of their own, and prioritize relationship building.

dad and daughter cooking

Millennials

The Millennial generation is the first generation to grow up with social media. It’s also a highly diverse group that spans the widest age gap. Pro Millennials, the oldest of the Millennial microgenerations, are characterized by their interest in independence and upward mobility, whereas Mid Millennials are more focused on personal growth and seeking fulfillment. Largely due to their younger age, Nouveau Millennials are seeking freedom and experiences.

Gen Z

Gen Z makes up the largest generation globally. Within Gen Z, members of Z Tribe (teenagers and young adults) tend to be driven by material goods and want full control over their identity. Today’s children, Z Alpha, largely have preferences and values that reflect those of their parents, who are making most of the decisions for them. The parents of Z Alpha tend to value autonomy and are trying to instill a sense of balance in their children.

Why Microgenerations Matter So Much in Food and Beverage

In food and beverage, using this “Generation Me” approach of microgenerations to understand and communicate can make all the difference in appealing to and winning loyal consumers. For example, Leading Boomers are more likely to be interested in supplements and functional products for age-related conditions like heart, joint, and brain health, while Neo Boomers are looking to nutrient-rich products for preventive health.

Among Gen Xers, fast and convenient foods are more important to members of Gen Xenos, as they’re more likely to have young kids in the household. While the older Gen XS also appreciate convenient options, healthy foods are a high priority. For Millennials, members of the youngest microgeneration, the Nouveau Millennials, are the most likely to expect personalization options with their food choices, having grown up in an environment that caters to this.

Leveraging Generational Knowledge in the Digital Environment

As brands seek to connect with consumers in the digital environment, similarities within generations become more important. For example, Boomers are known for using computer technology largely for entertainment, whereas Gen Xers use it for convenience. Self-promotion and socialization are key uses for Millennials, while for Gen Z, digital technology is just a natural part of life. 

girl on her phone

Generations also tend to have clear preferences in devices, with Boomers and Gen Z favoring tablets, Millennials relying on smartphones, and Gen Z using desktops and laptops for their digital engagement. In addition, YouTube is a clear favorite among Gen X and Gen Z, while Facebook is preferred by Boomers and Millennials. Food and beverage brands that leverage this knowledge are more likely to succeed in reaching their target consumers.

Understanding Your Consumers’ Needs

Understanding the key differences among generations and microgenerations can provide immense value to companies in the areas of product development and marketing, ensuring the right products are developed and the right consumers are reached. Here at Glanbia Nutritionals, we are committed to supporting our customers with information on trends and strategies that can help them succeed in the market.

Watch our latest MegaTrends on-demand webinar to learn how the pandemic has influenced the sports nutrition usage and exercise routines of each generation and microgeneration. If you’ve registered for the webinar, you’ll also have an opportunity to download our latest MegaTrends guide to learn more about Generation Me and the other four Glanbia Nutritionals food and beverage industry trends.

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