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When it comes to marketing efforts, Millennials drive the bus

Just a few short years ago the adjective “millennial” described something to do with a millennium, or a thousand-year period.

So, as the world moved into the third millennium A.D., Year 2000 was the “millennial portal.”  

USA Onions understands now that we’re firmly into the new century, and millennium. Millennial these days almost always refers to not a “what” but a “who” — a person or tens of millions of persons in the United States born between the late 1970s and the mid-1990s. And this generation, also called Generation Y, is mind-blowingly tech-fluent, with one thumb on the device screen and one thumb in the pie of finances.

With Baby Boomers retiring in greater numbers each year, Generation Y is poised to take over as the largest population segment in the nation.

Consider that Millennials already surpass Gen X’ers. X’ers were born between 1965 and 1980 and are mostly Boomer offspring that account for about 50 million in the country’s population. X’ers’ kids, who are also for the most part Boomer grands, are the increasingly publicized Gen Z’ers, and their numbers have been tallied at 23 million. But because Z’ers were born between 1995 and 2009, statisticians don’t have a firm total.

The upshot of all this bean-counting is that over the past few years marketers of every commodity and product have increasingly focused on Millennials, recognizing the large and certain-to-increase buying power.

One study conducted by Youbrand reported that Millennials had a combined global spending power $2.45 trillion in 2015.

In this country alone, according to a 2016 consumer report, the generation has a buying power of more than $200 billion, and the Millennials’ consumer spending hit $1.3 trillion.

Millennials are marrying and starting families — they’re shopping for durable goods and food. Food includes onions, and USA Onions is actively courting this group of people who are, as one shipper put it, are “looking for new and exciting ways to experience food.”

Today, not only is there a new social media and digital universe for selling to Millennials, whatever the goods and/or services might be, but there is also a whole new marketing technique toolbox to reach the young consumers.

Last year the Idaho-Eastern Oregon Onion Committee increased its focus this year said that in social media, “original content seems to do best when it comes to ‘reach and engagement.’”

Its efforts are affirmed in “5 strategies for marketing to millennials,” written by Elizabeth Crawford and published March 5, 2015, at She offered the following advice: “Firms need to move away from one-way marketing strategies in traditional media channels and embrace open engagement in new media outlets to capture the attention of millennials, who increasingly wield purchasing power and influence but continue to elude advertisers, according to executives at large food and wellness brands.”

The in-depth story went on to suggest several methods of engaging the up-and-coming market segment with storytelling rather than traditional marketing techniques and also talking clearly and concisely about the product.

And of course there are the vehicles for carrying the message to the readers and watchers.

Facebook is the most favored platform, taking a lion’s share of 75.6 of Millennials as regular users. Instagram comes in second at 43.1 and Snapchat is third with 32.9 percent penetration.

Additional research reaffirms that that Millennials in particular respond well to videos, curious about their food — what’s in it, how is it grown, where is it grown, how does it benefit me/my family’s health and how does it make my/our life easier?

Onions have the answers to all those questions and are a perfect fit for an active, healthy lifestyle. They are convenient, versatile and available all year.

And, importantly, most onion-growing operations walk the sustainability walk, filling that demand that Millennials issue as well.

Marketing expert Jeff Hilton wrote a piece entitled “Choice and Connection: Marketing Food to Millennials” that was published in April 2017 at www.naturalproductsinsider.

In it, Hilton reinforced the strategy of social media, saying SM “plays a critical role in the exchange of user-generated content.”

Citing research results that “show 65 percent of Millennials are disconnected from their devices for less than one hour per day,” he went on to recommend the development of a platform strategy and establishment of a presence on social media.

And that circles back to clear and forthright — and clever —messages videos on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Youtube for starters.

It’s true that marketing to the diversity of Millennials, Gen X’ers, Gen Z’ers and the aging Boomers can be tricky, but reaching Millennials through concerted effort isn’t — or maybe it is — rocket science.

But the savvy marketer and USA Onions know that you reach out through the fresh-daily salad of Youtube/Twitter/LinkedIn/Pinterest/Facebook/GooglePlus+/Tumblr/Instagram/Snapchat/etc./etc./etc., and you got it.