The huge cultural (and media) interest in food shines a light on an important fact: taste is only one of the considerations that come into play when consumers choose food. Sustainability, traceability, quality and safety are criteria of growing significance in their decisions.

This emerges from the latest PwC Observatory presented at the Philip Kotler Marketing Forum. Today, the stories behind the food we eat are of paramount importance, especially for millennials and digital natives. The factors that guide people’s decisions are changing, as are the tools used to search for information and select products and references. As far as the new generations are concerned, social media are the preferred channel for finding out more and choosing food items.

So a growing strategic priority for businesses is to communicate sustainability and transparency through these channels, which are certainly the most significant means, if not the only one, of “nourishing” young consumers.

Analysis of the Observatory data shows that quality, transparency and environmental sustainability are the three most important drivers. More than 70% of Millennials and digital natives say they are prepared to pay more to be certain that their favourite food brands are sustainable. The finding is confirmed year after year.

Accustomed to using technology, these youngsters actively search for information on the sustainability of their favourite brands, placing their trust in family and friends in primis (29% millennials and 28% gen Z), word of mouth (27% millennials and 27% gen Z) and shops (26% millennials and 27% gen Z).

Nevertheless, the most effective channels for communicating sustainability are digital: social networks and the internet together represent a source of information (and decision factor) for more than 60% of the youngest generations.

At the top of the list are platforms like Instagram and Pinterest, used to read reviews and feedback, receive special offers and view advertising.

The social media are also an extraordinarily effective tool for gathering big data and personalising offers: more than 40% of millennials and generation Z say they are willing to share their purchase history with their favourite brands.

Source: Mark-Up