I’m here in the sunny environs of Anaheim for Natural Products Expo West 2012 and Nutracon and just got out of a Nutracon education session with Jeff Hilton of Integrated Marketing Group (IMG). IMG is a PR, strategy and branding firm for companies in the natural space.
The natural space, Hilton argues, has long been dominated by a single consumer—white females, aged 40 to 55, with high levels of education and income. This will remain the target demographic for most natural products companies, but a new demographic—millenials—shows promise as well. This group of 19- to 32-year-olds comprises a population of about 100 million, Hilton estimates, and controls about $400 billion in spending. But they’re a fickle bunch and require marketing strategies that are a step outside traditional methods.
I myself am a millennial, and found most of Hilton’s logic to be reasonably sound: We want choice; we celebrate diversity; we think we’re unique; we like private label; we want to engage with and personalize our brands. We want our friends to have a say before the marketer speaks. The new marketing age must, of course, kowtow to social interfaces that give us a platform to interact with and customize new products to fit our lifestyles. I am a unique and handsome (both true) young man, and I require an exclusive Dorito. Give me a say.
Millenials not keen on supplements
Health, however, and natural products at large are not really on the radar of this age group, especially regarding dietary supplements. For millenials, Hilton says, supplements, functional foods and pharmaceuticals are all in the same boat. “Natural” is meaningless. By that token, though, supplements with branding that resembles pharmaceutical products resonates better with millenials than traditional supplement branding. And condition- or formulation-specific product lines are a good way to hit that “customizable” feel that my peers and I so desperately require.
Hilton went on to talk about moms and preteens as other demographics that are worth investigating, but I, of course, stopped listening because he was no longer talking about my generation.
Nutrition Business Journal discussed this topic with Hilton in depth for a Q&A in our upcoming Finance issue. Keep your eyes peeled.