Generation Y refers to people born between 1980 and 2000, a generation also known as the Millenialls, Generation Me, or the Echo Boomers and counting some 75m consumers in its ranks.
According to the new report, produced by Packaged Facts in cooperation with the Center for Culinary Development (CCD), these young people are a driving force for trends today, and the "ultimate savvy, brand-sensitive consumer cluster".
Having grown up during decades of technological revolution, huge consumer choice and access to foreign cuisines, they want their food choices constantly updated. Moreover, their influence extends beyond their direct circle of peers.
"Generation Y has a game-changing approach to food consumption that will definitely affect how other demographics, including Gen Xs and Baby Boomers, shop and eat," said Kimberly Egan, CEO of CCD.
CCD says its strategy in getting to grips with the complex "megaconsumers" of Generation Y was to create customized research methodologies to find out what it wants from food and beverage products.
The research consisted of three rounds: A quantitative online food and beverage attitude and behavior study; a qualitative study, trademarked 'Kickin' It', in a living room setting; and a qualitative 'Kickin' It' study in a restaurant setting.
The findings of this research, plus raw data, is said to give a 360 degree portrait of the "Millennial Eater".
The findings include:
- An insight into eating habits in communal spaces, real or virtual;
- Technical component of food supply, such as texting for a veggie take-out or the "cybertainment restaurant".
- Complex and layered flavors, and unusual combinations;
- Social conscience and interest in organic, fair trade and local eating;
- Nutritional savvy inherited from health-conscious boomer parents.
"Prepare yourself," the report's authors advise food manufacturers. "This is one generation whose tastebuds you'll be tickling for a long, long time."