Tapping Into the Millennial Target

Potatoes’ new biggest fans

Published in the March 2014 Issue Published online: Mar 24, 2014 Blair Richardson, USPB President & CEO
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Whether it is the constant attachment to their phones or using shorthand versions of the English language that sometimes feel like a language unto its own, there are many stereotypes associated with the “millennial” generation. At the United States Potato Board, we are constantly working to ensure we are keeping our finger on the pulse of consumers’ attitudes toward potatoes and to make sure we are not missing a beat. The USPB has now embarked upon an extensive, multi-phased study of the millennial generation and how they, specifically, are thinking about and using potatoes.

Starting in July 2013, the USPB team, along with one of our valued agency partners, Sterling-Rice Group, set forth to find out just how this crucial segment is behaving through a comprehensive mix of quantitative and qualitative research. Though this research is still under way, we are looking forward to sharing the full findings of this study with the industry upon completion—it is so exciting for us to be able to see all this research unfolding.

While we do not want to prematurely put forth any findings until we have completed the full study, the great news, so far, is that we are finding millennials, on the whole, are still viewing potatoes as a key part of their diets.

Overall, attitudes about potatoes among millennials are very positive. Our study shows nearly 90 percent rate potatoes “excellent” or “good” for being a good value, and 88 percent rate potatoes “excellent” or “good” for being something everyone would enjoy. In fact, across the board, potatoes rate highest on what food is most important to millennials.

Another trend we are seeing is that this generation has different views toward cooking when compared with many of the previous generations. While they are a busy segment—often on the go and focusing on budget-conscious choices—they also demonstrate a higher passion toward cooking and view it as an opportunity to be creative and adventurous and try new things. Their attitudes about cooking, overall, suggest our current efforts to showcase exciting and new ways to prepare and serve potatoes are very much in line with their desires. We are pleased to see our strategy to date is sound.

The news we have received so far has been tremendously positive but we are not ready to stop here.

Our next step is to go on a deeper dive with key segments of this population. Over the course of the coming months, we will be speaking directly with millennials, in their homes and in focus groups, more comprehensively,about how they use potatoes, what types of recipes they are making and how this compares to their feelings and behaviors around other vegetables, starches and side dishes. We want to find out exactly where potatoes fit into their lives, and what challenges and opportunities lie ahead of us for the future.

At the USPB we are committed to understanding today’s consumer and ready to invest our time to make sure we are properly positioned, both in our messaging and in our strategies. We want to keep potatoes at the forefront of consumers’ minds as they are shopping, cooking and ordering meals for years to come.

This research initiative, in conjunction with all the additional research studies we are committed to at the USPB, are essential in helping us measure attitudes about potatoes, as well as identifying and proactively planning for trends we are seeing in the marketplace.

We will be very excited to share the full results of this important study when it has been completed. We are looking forward to working hard to keep potatoes top-of-mind and top-of-preference in the hearts, minds and stomachs of millennials and all generations for years to come.