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Millennials: The Emerging Organic Majority?

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Back in 2002, two political writers, John Judis and Ruy Teixeira, wrote a book called The Emerging Democratic Majority. In it, they traced the demographic changes in the U.S. and pointed to the potential for a growing and persistent electoral advantage for Democrats. It's a prediction that looks reasonably good at the moment, but at the time it was a risky proposal, and Judis and Teixeira were mocked for their "early call" of these demographic changes.

Well, I'm making an early call of the Emerging Organic Majority. My evidence? For one, the fact that cranky, aging baby boomers are taking to the New York Times op-ed page, as columnist Roger Cohen did recently, with semi-coherent rants against organic food. I'd say that represents a pretty good "contrary indicator" for the organic industry (though you should really read Grist Food Editor Twilight Greenaway for a full and devastating takedown of Cohen. And check out this excellent NYT Room for Debate on the same subject while you're at it).

But the bulk of the evidence for my provocative and controversial theory comes from a marketing report on, as Beth Hoffman at Forbes put it, "How 'Millennials' Are Changing Food as We Know It." The author of the report, marketing firm Jeffries Alix Partners, concluded that the Millennial generation's approach to food is different enough from that of the boomer generation (born 1946-1964) to warrant titling its findings "Trouble in Aisle 5" [PDF].

Using its own survey data, the group found that millennials like supermarkets, processed foods, and brands less than boomers, and specialty stores and fresh food more. The report also concludes that "natural and organic products look to be quite important to the Millennials."


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