As the largest segment of the global labor force, millennials are leading the charge in demanding comprehensive distribution of information.
According to Selerant COO Sunil Thomas, “The level of information that consumers want has changed drastically. It’s not just ingredients on a label, they want to know that the product does not violate their principles or beliefs. If you say that your product is organic or sustainably sourced, can you prove it?”
Millennials are challenging the status quo in other ways - just because a brand has longevity, that does not mean that they trust it. Unlike boomers, millennials are not nostalgic. They matured in a high-tech, data-driven culture, so old-fashioned or archaic product landscapes that assume loyalty based on previous performance simply do not appeal to them.
It is crucial to understand that millennials, who comprise more than 35 percent of the global workforce, have money to spend and significant buying power.
Thomas points out that these consumers, “need to see that the food and beverage manufacturers that they support with their hard-earned dollars are willing to do what is right for the environment, and for good health and nutrition.”
It can be challenging for food and beverage manufacturers to capture and hold on to this essential demographic.
Every food manufacturer has an opportunity to compete for millennial business – but it requires establishing a system of innovation cycles that speeds time to market while delivering the information that these consumers demand – and assurances of transparency, traceability, and quality food products.
Supply chain traceability and transparency are vital to secure millennial support – nutrition data and comprehensive information are king with these consumers. They want to know everything about their product purchase, so clean labels that deliver the information they need are key. Manufacturers in the food industry need to know where millennials begin the buying process, and if they are susceptible to impulse-buying.
F&B manufacturers must find a way to capture and communicate the data - spreadsheet and siloed trial and error processes are not the fastest or best ways to achieve innovation or snag the attention of millennials.
To combat waning sales, established brands, emerging private labels and niche producers are turning to technology – specifically to product lifecycle management software solutions.
PLM enables rapid adaptation in supply chain management, mirroring millennial purchase patterns while maintaining stability for individual products and product lines. The data is structured for optimal online presence, so the impact of increased individualization on planning, production, and partnerships is optimized for each product.
This delivers specific logistics models for growth management and increased market share – but is simply not possible without the integration of a comprehensive, end-to-end PLM system.
Global compliance with secure food safety regulations should be a top priority for any manufacturer in the food and beverage industry. Food safety and quality are the cornerstones of F&B producer’s brand reputation – but assuring compliance in today’s highly regulated landscape is a complex task for F&B manufacturers.
Best practices and solutions
Compliance must begin early on in product development. Devex PLM software aids manufacturers in developing a culture of food safety. It is impossible to execute proper compliance without knowing what is in raw materials – so performing early compliance assessment saves time, resources and substantially increases speed to market.
There is a simple solution to create transparency and accuracy throughout the product lifecycle – embrace a PLM process solution that will manage all product specifications in a single integrated system and ensure that all required specifications are processed and up to date with current compliance requirements.
With so much data being processed and changing hands, companies must be able to access, manage and update all product-relevant information directly by mapping it through a single source of truth. PLM ensures data integration.
What this means for food manufacturers
Food manufacturers have an interesting challenge ahead, but also a great opportunity. The ones that will ultimately gain popularity among Millennials will be those that are willing to innovate while staying authentic. Millennials not only value the transparency of brands, they are also aware of shortcomings when it comes to unsubstantiated claims. Food manufacturers must now walk the line between making all-natural and sustainable product claims, and being 100 percent truthful in their statements. When it comes down to it, Millennials will do the research, read the labels and uncover the truth.