Watershed Communications, Portland, Ore., released findings from two national ethnographic studies examining the media habits of Millennial food and beverage consumers.  

The study, called “Media Habits of Millennials,” investigated whether social media and influencer marketing have eclipsed the impact of traditional editorial coverage. For example, the study discoveredthat 84% of Millennials feel they can easily describe in one sentence a food or beverage brand or product they just discovered.

“It’s more important than ever to make sure you are strategic in brand communications from the very beginning. While we found that Millennials are still reading print magazines and newspapers, the key takeaway from the study was the speed at which this generation makes up their minds about a brand,” says Lisa Donoughe, principal and founder. “This generation is forming opinions about brands from the minute they read about them.”

The other study, “What Matters to Millennials,” set out to unpack the marketing buzzword “authenticity” to discover what creates an authentic brand, according to Millennials.For example, 100% of the Millennials surveyed said they frequently purchase food and beverage brands they list as authentic.

“The authenticity message is massive,” says Alexia Howard, senior U.S. food analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., New York. 

“We were surprised by the Millennial definition of authenticity,” adds Donoughe. “Millennials want simplicity and consistency, not just small, indie brands.” 

Based on the research, Watershed found six key pillars for building an authentic brand—compassion, community, customization, co-creation, consistency and conviction. In the world of food and beverage, Millennials are instantaneous decision makers. Therefore, a strong messaging and marketing strategy is necessary at every turn.