According to Mintel, Millennial consumers – those born after 1980 – are a constant challenge to food and beverage manufacturers. They grew up with more product variety and as a result are accustomed to having more choices.
For carbonated soft drink manufacturers this has meant an increase in the demand for energy drink innovations, reduced calorie sodas and enhanced water products.
Despite the demands for variety, 30 year-old Diet Coke continues to be popular and is still the leading diet brand among 18 to 34 year olds in the US. According to Mintel’s February 2012 Carbonated Soft Drinks report, 68% of diet carbonated soft drink consumers under the age of 34 drink Diet Coke.
According to Mintel, Diet Coke’s continued focus on style and fashion has helped it maintain its popularity with these young consumers, while not alienating older demographics.
“Millennial consumers, in general, are willing to spend more on products if they believe they are worth it,” Mintel director of consumer trends Alexandra Smith told BeverageDaily.com.
“But they are also very critical of the products they buy. If they decide to spend their money on a product, they expect the product to live up to its claims.”
As a result, carbonated soft drinks manufacturers have been forced to diversify their products in recent years to meet these Millennial generation demands.
Obesity – a major issue, particularly in the US – has birthed demand from consumers for more diverse and healthier alternatives to carbonated soda.
Earlier this year, PepsiCo launched Pepsi Next, which contains 60% less sugar than Pepsi Cola. Dr Pepper 10, which is formulated to taste like regular Dr Pepper but with only 10 calories, was also launched in late 2011.
Not a gamble
Despite these demand, Millennial consumers will still often go back to “what they know.”
“Looking at functional beverages, these Millennial consumers might try them, but if they feel that the claims met by the product are not met they might go back to products they know – products like Diet Coke,” said Smith.
“Diet Coke was launched in the early 80s, so many of these younger consumers have grown up with it. It is a brand and product they know, it isn’t going to be a gamble. It is a safe product and something they are comfortable with,” she added.