We’re in an Age Where Age Matters

The produce industry needs to take note and adjust its marketing strategies accordingly.

by Amanda Marie Costa, vice president of sales at Fresh Del Monte

What generation is your brand targeting? If you don’t know that’s your first problem.

Age has a big impact on how, where, and with whom people spend their money. We’ve all heard the stats about how ‘different’ millennials are, and how they’re bucking any and all trends set by their parents.

Other industries have pivoted, adopted new technology and adjusted their marketing to draw millennial consumers. The produce industry, not so much.

The produce industry as a whole can be better about tapping into these buying trends and figuring out how to reach millennials without ignoring other generations. If you’re not thinking about millennials (and Gen Z) — then you’re leaving money on the table, which will only get worse as they get older, make more money and have more spending power.

It’s no secret that millennials (and Gen Z) have vastly different spending habits than their Boomer or Gen X counterparts. And as millennials usurp Boomers as the largest consumer demographic and make up more of the workforce, it’s time to really dig into their spending habits and preferences.

The 80 million millennials, those born between 1981 and 1996, in the United States have $2.5 trillion in spending power as of January 2020. And while Boomers and Gen X combined still have the majority of purchasing power, younger generations will shape consumer spending in the next decade — the growth rate of millennial shoppers is 2.4 times the overall versus just 1.3 times for Gen X and 0.4 for Boomers.

So, what do millennials consider before making a purchase?


Millennial consumers are much more conscious about the company behind their purchases. They are paying attention to things like sustainability and the ethics of corporations. Brands that ‘do the right thing,’ whether that’s by treating their workers right, giving back to their community or protecting the environment, are more likely to get a millennial’s business.
More than half of millennial women say that a brand’s values and stance on issues are important to them and that it drives their spending. And millennial women have 85% of the total buying power of U.S. millennials.

As a brand, that means you must clearly convey your stance, values and progress to consumers in an authentic way. Fresh Del Monte publishes an annual report that outlines progress across various pillars of sustainability while also telling stories from the farms and the people who work there. Sharing what we’re doing in a digestible and interesting way with our customer base allows us to educate them on our efforts and work together to convey this to the end customer.

This report allows us to show our progress through photos and discuss our vision and the importance of these pillars to our consumers and community. Sustainability reports are no longer just for industry stakeholders — consumers are reading them, too. Millennials aren’t afraid to voice their thoughts and opinions, so companies need to be genuine and authentic and not just pay lip service.

Brand Loyalty

Younger generations are more loyal to a specific brand — gone are the days of reaching for the cheapest option. Seventy percent of millennials will go out of their way to buy from a brand they feel loyal to, according to InMoment, a survey company.

And this extends directly to the produce market — two-thirds of millennials and Gen Zers are likely to purchase branded produce versus just half of Gen X and Boomers.
To top it off, groceries are millennials’ biggest monthly expenditure, taking the combined cost of housing and utilities out of the equation. More than 80% of millennials indicated that they spent the most money on groceries, according to calculations by YPulse, a research company.

By fostering loyalty in customers, you can tap into the large majority of millennial consumers that will spend additional time and energy to purchase from a specific brand, a big departure from other generations.

To build this loyalty, you must consistently sell quality products — build a reputation that you’re proud of and consumers can be proud of, too. You have to focus on what consumers are passionate about. Our research shows us what shoppers are interested in, and we create products to satisfy that.


Millennial consumers value convenience. They’re the first generation to adopt technology in a big way and their shopping habits reflect that. However, this can be translated to other categories like groceries when thinking about how to make shopping and eating healthy easier.

Think outside of your core product line. How can you fill the gaps with value-add items that consumers want to buy? In this case, fresh-cut products and ready-to-eat, healthy snacks appeal to millennial consumers because they will spend slightly more to save time.

Think Beyond the Consumer

As a business and a brand, it’s just as important to cultivate relationships throughout the buying process as it is with your end consumer. Whether you’re a buyer or a supplier, you will, at some point, need help. Fostering true relationships between buyers and suppliers means you will have someone to call, no matter what side of the relationship you’re on.

Be open to in-person meetings and new ideas. Having more phone calls and personal one-on-one conversations builds the trust needed to create a lasting partnership.

And when you’re dealing with suppliers, remember to choose someone who is passionate about produce. Someone who cares about the entire process — from the grower all the way to the consumers’ table. Passion means better service, but it also means they care about the product, who buys it and how it’s enjoyed.