Chuck Vila, Campbell’s vice president of consumer and customer insights, has boasted he and his company have the inside scoop on what makes Generation Y tick.
This is what Vila told CPGmatters: “For them, life is all about experiencing and sampling, and then you commit,” Vila explained. “Once they commit to jobs or brands, for example, they’re a force to be reckoned with. But their orientation is to sample.”
“They’re different,” Vila said. “They like familiar things about eating — when it’s quick, convenient and good for you. But they also question the way in which those [characteristics of food] have been defined. They like convenience foods and they’ll eat frozen foods, and they recognize food has a nutritional aspect.
“But while they have a broad awareness of health and well-being, they have very little depth of practice with that, unlike boomers – who have much more depth, usually in a particular area that might be driven by a health event.”
In fact, Vila said, Millennials “are just as likely to be obese and overweight as the general population.”
In other words, Chuck Vila and the people at Campbell have decided that while Generation Y values quick convenience and a variety of flavors, they only possess some distant, obscure notion of what nutrition is, and are too indolent and lazy to actually apply good nutrition in their lives and consume wholesome, healthy food.
“They recognize food has a nutritional aspect,” says Vila, “but while they have a broad awareness of health and well-being, they have very little depth of practice with that.”
Writing for CPGmatters, Dale Buss claims Vila’s conclusions are based on Campbell’s own intense research. Campbell’s research teams spent time with members of Gen Y in so-called “hipster hub” cities of London, San Francisco, New York, Austin, Des Moines and St. Louis.
They went into Millennials’ homes and out to restaurants and entertainment sites with them. “They don’t like to be labeled in terms of religion, politics or sexual orientation,” Campbell found.
As a result, Campbell has structured its packaging and communications with Generation Y accordingly. “We have a very different approach to connecting with this consumer than we do with boomers,” Villa said.
Armed with these supposed insights about Generation Y, Campbell has created a new product line called Go! Soups.
Campbell believes this generation will be open to Go! Soups and a Go! “platform”, because “we’re looking at it as a lifestyle platform that is being designed to meet them in the connected, on-the-go mobile lives that they lead.”
In 2011, incoming CEO Denise Morrison announced that salt will be added in more than two dozen Campbell soups after a health-inspired low-sodium marketing campaign failed to boost soup sales.
Campbell raised sodium levels in all 31 of its Select Harvest soups to 650 milligrams per serving, from 480 milligrams. They originally ranged from 700 to 800 milligrams.
The maximum recommended level of sodium intake is 2,300 mg per day, and high sodium intake is one of the primary factors involved in the development of high blood pressure.
So this year Campbell has spent who knows how many hundreds of thousands on research to create a new line of soup with exotic taste combinations in pouches, instead of a can, with lively images.
Reducing the fat and sodium content in their soups to enhance their product’s nutritional benefit isn’t on the menu, because Campbell takes for granted a nutritious product with healthier ingredients won’t sell.
The fact is, all soup brands have taken a hit. Because of the rising cost of all food, consumers want to get the most food for their food dollar, and soup (which simply isn’t all that filling) isn’t on the shopping list.
For Campbell this year, it’s all about flavor combinations.
“The flavors reflect [Millennials’] restless spirit and adventurous palate,” Vila said. “They enjoy flavor combinations mashed together more than boomers do, so we’re mashing together flavor combinations. They don’t hold themselves to conventional rules when it comes to food.”
As Take Part points out, consider the fat content in Campbell’s Creamy Red Pepper with Smoked Gouda soup from its Go line: 30 grams of fat, 18 of which is saturated fat—more than half the amount of fat a person on an 1,800-calorie diet should consume in a day.
“Nutritionists recommend that no more than 10 percent of our calories come from saturated fat.) And with 1,550 milligrams of sodium, the pepper-and-gouda soup contains more than half the daily salt recommendation for a person without high blood pressure or heart disease.”
“Soups can be great, but some of these on-the-go soups are highly processed and very high in sodium,” says nutritionist Lisa Young. “Best to stick with lower sodium varieties. Non-creamy varieties and bean soups are also best bets.”
Take Part also notes another important reason for consumers to pass on many of these store-bought soups is their ties to the industrial food system.
“General Mills—which lobbied hard in California earlier this fall to defeat GMO labeling owns both the Progresso and Muir Glen Organic labels; Bertolli is owned by European food giant Unilever.”
Soup Companies With Natural Ingredients
Take Part has reccommneded several companies that make premade soups that are healthy for our bodies and made with natural ingredients:
Pacific Natural Foods
Harry’s Fresh Foods
Best Soup is Homemade
Deep down, most everyone knows nothing healthy and nutritious ever came out of a can.
The healthiest soup you and your family can possible eat is homemade, of course, with organic vegetables, free-range chicken, and grass fed beef.
Nutrition counselor Samantha Lynch says she prefers cooking soups at home because she can control the sodium level with her own broth, but, more importantly, “it just tastes better!”