The times they are a changing. Born between 1946 and 1964, many Baby Boomers fulfilled the American Dream by owning houses, raising families and living comfortably. Companies  courted them, tailoring products to meet their specific needs for joint care, anti-aging, blood sugar support and more. However, a new group of consumers is coming of age with the potential to change our market: Generation Y (AKA the Millennials).

Born between 1976 and 2000, the Millennials are unique. The older Millennials have settled down while those in the middle are just getting their feet wet in the job market and therefore have money to spend on healthcare and lifestyle products. These two factions of Millennials are opposites in nature: they embrace technology, but remember life before the digital boom. This odd placement in the pages of history has made it difficult for companies to nail down an effective marketing strategy.

The oldest of the Millennials are big on nostalgia. Appeal to that. An ad campaign created around a product or relic from their childhood will stick with them longer than the latest technological gimmick. That being said, the Millennials embrace social media. They text, tweet and update their Facebook statuses. Simply hosting a Facebook page with periodic updates, however, is no longer acceptable. Companies need to think outside the box when marketing to Millennials. Creating digital coupons, QR codes and cell phone apps will generate more interest than traditional paper flyers. Blog about your new products, and host online product reviews.

Generation Y is a semi-cultured group when it comes to food. The children of the Boomers, many had the chance to travel and at home, acquired a taste for the exotic. Many regularly eat all types of foods from Asian cooking to Mediterranean cuisine to Latin/Central American fare. Millennials want new and fresh tastes that will throw their palettes into overdrive. They are also health conscious, and are accepting of organic products.

According to the Organic Trade Association, eight in 10 U.S. parents purchase organic products. That’s a rosy outlook for the industry, especially when the youngest Millennials (and the subsequent generation) start to make their own health choices. In the end, don’t be afraid to market to Gen Y; they are increasingly your present and future clientele. See this month’s feature on page 18 for more on Millennials. WF

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, June 2013