Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Millennials Hate Chocolate

The title comes from an article I read yesterday that looks at  about a psychology study at Kansas State University that examined Millennials attitudes about chocolate... or so it claimed. Millennials, the articles reveals, do not follow through on their ideals about chocolate, they are unwilling to pay for the ideals, and by extension that mean something negative about them... I used "hate" to rile you all up. But if you looked just at this article, not the study itself, there are problems immediately as well as some intriguing information.

First, the article interchanges "chocolate" and "candy" but these are not interchangeable terms. There are legal definitions (varied from country to country) of each and they are not the same. The average person may not be strongly aware of the difference but the writers at sciencecodex.com and the researchers at Kansas State University should be. If you ask your subjects about chocolate then allow them tack candy and not just chocolate purchases, don't be surprised if the results don't match.

Second, the article says that the Millennials were asked to talk about what drives their shopping. Then they were asked to fill out a survey about their shopping experiences. Memory, desire to be perceived a particular way, inclusion of non-chocolate and non-candy items seems to take the subjects off topic and raise issues of objectiveness. Perhaps a study where they keep a diary or their purchases are tracked over the course of a year might be more insightful. Also, if you are tracking attitude and buying habits about chocolate, limit it to chocolate or at the very least have clear definitions of what qualifies as chocolate and what qualifies as candy when you give the survey or have discussions.

Third, the idea that Millennials just parrot back ideas that they think are popular reads a bit insulting to me. People of all ages do that. How do you prove that it is just copying verses what you believe? Do we expect people of all ages to follow their ideals or purported ideals 100% of the time? How surprising is a mismatch between what you say you want and what you do really? If you must match what you say with what you do all of the time, most of us are hypocrites.

Finally, this article and possibly the study it is reporting on, ignores one very big reason why people might pick one product over another -- economics. Of the six clusters that the researchers groups subjects into, none of them list money. You are telling me that a Millennial just grabs whatever and doesn't think about money? Not millennials that I know. They weigh costs of product X and Y and then balance that with their product experience and immediate reasons for purchase. We all do this even unconsciously.

If you want to test if money is a factor give them some in the study. Ask them to go on a shopping trip where they have X amount of money you gave them to spend plus whatever else they are willing to chip in. I'm betting that if they had income to spend some Millennials might follow their ideals and buy chocolate instead of candy and look at factors such as fairtrade, GMOs, labor practices, charity tie-ins, and sustainable agriculture. The simple fact is that chocolate is more expensive than candy. Following good social and environmental practices also add to the cost. While you can probably find a mass produced candy bar for $1 some of these chocolate bars are at the $5-10 range and that can seem like to much to pay until you really compare and feel like you have enough money to invest.

Millennials don't hate chocolate. They are just like the rest of us. Seriously, how many of us who are not Millennials also talk a good fair labor and sustainable agricultural line about chocolate then turn around and pay the cheapest you can find? How many of us buy the more expensive stuff on sale and make sure we wait for free shipping or collect coupons? How many of us buy more expensive chocolat only for special occasions? Millennials have ideals, they are confused about what is "chocolate" and what is "candy," and they are trying to make complex decisions when they go shopping.

Millennials do NOT hate chocolate.

I hope the study itself becomes available so I can check it out. I'd love to interview at least one of the researchers.

What are you thoughts about millennials and chocolate?

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