Millennials Weigh in on What Makes Food Brands Authentic: Watershed Research

New Research Reveals the Influencing Factors

PORTLAND, Ore.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–#PR–Watershed Communications released findings from two national
ethnographic studies examining the media habits of millennial food and
beverage consumers. The “Media
Habits of Millennials”
 study investigated whether social media and
influencer marketing have eclipsed the impact of traditional editorial
coverage. The “What
Matters to Millennials”
 study set out to unpack the marketing
buzzword “authenticity” and to learn what creates an authentic brand
according to millennials.

As America’s top food and beverage companies lose an estimated $4
billion in market share (Fortune),
the industry is trying to digest this dramatic power shift from trusting
consumers to a new, highly engaged demographic. The Watershed studies
were designed to help marketers understand how to build a stronger sense
of trust with millennial consumers.

The Media Habits study found 84 percent of millennials feel they can
easily describe, in one sentence, a food or beverage brand or product
they just discovered. “It’s more important than ever to make sure you
are strategic in brand communications from the very beginning. While we
found that millennials are still reading print magazines and newspapers,
the key takeaway from the study was the speed at which this generation
makes up their minds about a brand,” says Lisa Donoughe, Watershed’s
principal and founder. “This generation is forming opinions about brands
from the minute they read about them.”

In the What Matters study, 100 percent of the millennials surveyed said
they frequently purchase food and beverage brands they list as
authentic. “The authenticity message is massive,” says Alexia Howard,
Senior U.S. Food Analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein. The top five most
mentioned authentic food and beverage brands (in order) are: Trader
Joe’s, Coca-Cola, Kind Bars, Honest Tea, and Starbucks. “We were
surprised by the millennial definition of authenticity,” says Donoughe.
“Millennials want simplicity and consistency – not just small, indie

Based on the research, Watershed found six key pillars for building an
authentic brand: Compassion, Community, Customization, Co-creation,
Consistency, and Conviction. In the world of food and beverage,
millennials are instantaneous decision makers. It is necessary to be
strategic in messaging and marketing at every turn.

Full details on the research can be viewed online at

About Watershed Communications

Founded in 1999, Watershed Communications is a national brand strategy
and PR agency specializing in the artisan food and drink economy,
representing both small and large category-leading clients. Watershed
offers a unique suite of services including public relations, social
media strategy, generational and category insight and research,
marketing awareness, distribution growth and more. Watershed prides
itself on cutting through the clutter, telling distinctive stories and
building brand equity. Watershed has offices in Portland, Ore., New
York, NY and Pittsburgh, PA. For a complete client list and to discover
the latest and greatest, visit


Watershed Communications
Natalie Padilla, 503-827-6564