Millennials are killing canned tuna, but the industry is fighting back

Bumble Bee Chunk Light Tuna in Oil

Geri Lavrov | Getty Images
Bumble Bee Chunk Light Tuna in Oil

Another one bites the dust. This time, millennials are killing canned tuna, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Consumption of canned tuna has dropped 42 percent per capita from the last 30 years through 2016, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. And the industry places the blame on younger consumers, who want fresher or more convenient options.

“A lot of millennials don’t even own can openers,” Andy Mecs, the vice president of marketing and innovation for Starkist, said to the Journal.

The struggle of the three largest canned tuna companies, StarKist, Bumble Bee Foods and Chicken of the Sea International, mirrors that of others in the packaged food industry, like Campbell Soup and Kraft Heinz. Younger consumers are turning away from processed foods, and new competitors are catering to changing tastes faster than the industry’s giants.

To Ken Harris, managing partner at Cadent Consulting Group, the bigger picture is about convenience.

“In the last 15 years, can openers became passe,” Harris told CNBC.

Harris, who has worked with canned tuna businesses, believes that the traditional companies have fallen behind because it’s a low-margin business and investing in packaging falls low on the list of priorities. The main priority for canned tuna companies now, according to Harris, should be packaging that makes it easy to remove and drain the tuna.

StarKist started re-thinking its product line-up in earnest about three to five years ago when the decline of tuna accelerated, Mecs said in an interview with CNBC. He remembered reading a newspaper article a few years ago about millennials recoiling from cereal because the bowl had to be cleaned. For him, the story reiterated how much consumers care about convenience.

Upstarts like Wild Planet Foods and Safe Catch market their tuna as safer and higher quality and are slowly eating into the big three’s market share, the Journal said. According to Nielsen data as of October, smaller brands (not including private labels) control 6.3 percent of the market, up from 3.7 percent in 2014, the Journal said.

To stage a comeback, the traditional tuna makers are taking a page from those brands. Bumble Bee and StarKist both have premium brands that they market as sustainable.

They’re also focusing on the products that are working. Tuna pouches don’t require a can opener, and StarKist told CNBC that sales of its pouches are increasing by 20 percent annually. For the first time, the Pittsburgh-based company sold more pouches than their most popular can size in 2018.

Kroger’s Home Chef, a meal-kit company, has partnered with the tuna brand to put its yellowfin tuna pouches in kits next year.

Bumble Bee and StarKist have also turned to flavors favored by millennials, like sriracha.

Chicken of the Sea is pitching it to younger consumers as a snack. The San Diego-based company started selling resealable cups of its flavored tuna this summer.

Bumble Bee and Chicken of the Sea weren’t immediately available for comment when CNBC reached out.


Millennials’ favorite animal reveals key insights about their values

IG_RideOn[4]The “majestic unicorn” is trending, according to Hershey, with the company calling the animal “the spirit animal of millennials.”

“One of the things we started to notice that unicorns were popping up a lot in culture,” Bill Blubaugh, Hershey’s senior director of sweets & refreshments, told Business Insider. “Unicorns really now represent self confidence, individualism, the ability to achieve personal greatness.”

While the claim initially feels like a stretch, it’s one backed by extensive research at Hershey. The company is putting its money where its mouth is, with a new ad campaign for Ice Breakers starring – what else? – a unicorn.

However, instead of fantasy adventures, these unicorns are preoccupied with issues such as female empowerment in the workplace.

In the first commercial in the “Break Through” campaign, a young woman asks her apparent new boss for three weeks of vacation. When her boss says two weeks is the standard, she pops an Ice Breaker. A unicorn comes whinnying through the glass wall, inspiring the woman to tell her boss: “I’m not standard. Three weeks.”

In addition to four commercials featuring similar situations involving empowering unicorns, Ice Breaker unicorns are also taking over social media. Last Saturday (National Unicorn Day), the brand utilized “Twitter First View” to place a #UnicornMoment tweet at the top of users’ newsfeeds and debuted a music video starring a unicorn on Twitter.

Clearly, Hershey believes that unicorns represent millennials’ values, which translates into where they spend their money.

“We realized this is more symbolic of personal accomplishment, individualism, achievement, being your best, and really that your dreams can come true,” says Blubaugh. “And this generation believes that, certainly more than other generations.”

Ice Breakers Unicorn

Ice Breakers

So, not only is the unicorn trendy – it’s a representation of millennials’ state of mind and how they spend money.

The Ice Breakers ad is not the only indication that there’s a unicorn-centric trend brewing.

Polar Seltzer released “Unicorn Seltzer” as an April Fools’ Day treat, with consumers reporting the limited-time flavor was alternately fruity, vanilla-infused, and “like a nice version of the stuff they give you at the dentist once you wash your mouth out.”

More widely, the unicorn has been popping up in pop culture as a costume of choice for celebrities from country star Blake Shelton to future Bachelorette JoJo Fletcher.

Then, there’s the world of tech startups. A unicorn is a startup with a valuation of more than $1 billion – the subject of both celebration andcontroversy.

Even the scientific community is buzzing about unicorns. In March, the American Journal of Applied Science published a study that revealed the “Siberian unicorn” may have coexisted with humans. While this unicorn was certainly ambitious (surviving more than 300,000 years after they were thought to have gone extinct), they were far less aesthetically pleasing than the stereotypical unicorn, as it looked like a hairy rhino.

Objectively, Google Trends indicates that unicorns are hotter now than they have been since 2005.

And, more people are celebrating National Unicorn Day than ever. According to Hershey, there were 397 times as many mentions of National Unicorn Day on Twitter this year compared to 2015 – a fortunate boost for Ice Breakers, which both tapped into and encouraged the trend by promoting the hashtag.

However, at the end of the day, Hershey doesn’t necessarily need unicorns to be trending. Ice Breakers are already hot on their own.

The company reports the Ice Breaker brand has been an especially well-performing brand in both gum and mint categories.

IG_CantEven Ice Breakers

Ice Breakers

“We’re one of the strongest millennial brands in the category,” says Blubaugh. “The category, especially mints, tends to be a little older… We’re the new brand, we’re the young brand, and people become accustomed to us bringing them new and different refreshment experiences.”

Whether it’s trending or not, the unicorn will be a major presence in Ice Breakers marketing in the coming months. Expect the Ice Breakers unicorns to be popping up to confidence boosts on TV, as well as Ice Breakers’ Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr, with more #UnicornMoments.


The ‘Uber for Friends’ Plans to Save Millennials From Loneliness

The 'Uber for Friends' Plans to Save Millennials From Loneliness

Clay Kohut’s pitch for his new app, Ameego, is so absurd that it’s best to let him deliver it.

“With Uber, you rent a stranger’s car,” he begins.

“With Airbnb, you rent a stranger’s home.” Mhmm.

“With Ameego … you rent a stranger!” What?

“It’s a logical progression,” he reassures.

The Texas-born developer and entrepreneur is, as you may have suspected, a full-on millennial, just shy of 26 years old. He’s a member of a generation in which “progress” follows slightly different rules. Upon sensing a problem – such as, say, the glut of young people who find themselves in new cities, without their old friends – Kohut and his cohort hesitate but a moment before deploying apps to solve it.

In the past month, this class of fresh-faced entrepreneurs has launched the buzzy Hey! Vina, an app that “helps women find new friends,” Bro, an ambiguous social-network-slash-dating-app for “men interested in meeting other men,” and Rendezwho, which connects distant people through a series of “Buzzfeed-style questions.” They’ve pitched start-ups with self-explanatory and slightly pathetic names, like “LykeMe” and “Woez” and “Go Find Friends.” They’ve attempted a “Tinder for meeting people” and a “Meetup for spontaneous get-togethers.”

Those last two failed. Ameego won’t, Kohut insists.

“We’re the first ones to commodify friendship,” he says.

Kohut will admit, if reluctantly, that not all things should be commodified. (In fact, his hope for Ameego is that, after a few hours of paid companionship, the professional friend and his client will become pals in real life.) But he also realizes, like any savvy entrepreneur, that he’s offering a service valuable enough that some people will pay for it. After all, what millennial hasn’t found herself friendless or flaked-on at some point, thumbing desperate texts to a BFF who’s still in Pittsburgh or Des Moines?

“I don’t think it’s at all clear that our social networks are larger or smaller than they have been in the past,” said Keith Hampton, the co-chair of the Social Media & Society program at Rutgers University. “But in general, people do report having fewer closer friends and confidants than they may have had previously.”

Hampton’s research focuses on the way that technology impacts our social relationships – or, in many cases, how it appears to but doesn’t. The recent spate of friend-making apps is a prime example of the latter. While these app’s creators frequently believe they’re fighting tech-induced isolation (“no one leaves their computer long enough to meet people,” Kohut explained to me) the case of the declining friend count is actually far more complicated than that.

For one thing, Hampton has found, people in affluent societies with strong safety nets tend to have fewer closer friends — which suggests that, as the US has industrialized and developed, successive generations have friended fewer people, probably without realizing it.

On top of that, our social networks have become less centralized, a change dating back to the aftermath of World War II. Where close ties were once based on strict geographic locations – a neighbordhood, an office, a church – people have become more mobile, and their networks both more individualized and more ambiguous.

Add to that the peculiar wrinkles of growing up in the aughts – an economy that’s kept many living with parents or, alternately, moving far from the people they know; a collapse of institutional power that’s left many without a local social hub – and it’s little surprise that 11 percent of adults aged 18 to 37 claim their relationships with friends don’t bring them happiness. Many belong to vast social networks, with ties that span multiple countries and life stages; but they don’t, on any given day, have anybody to hang out with.

It’s a paradox that the fast-talking, amiable Kohut has experienced himself.

“I was 19 when I dropped out, left my small town in Texas, and moved to New York,” he said. “If someone told me they could give me the ability to instantly make new friends, I certainly would have paid for that.”

Will anyone else? That remains to be seen; Ameego is currently available in New York and San Francisco, with prospective plans to launch more widely in the future. When it does, it will find itself up against not only other dedicated friend-making apps, but a whole range of millennial-marketed technologies that attempt to connect local strangers: MeetUp, Nextdoor, Mico, Skout, Yik Yak, Tagged, Tinder. In 2015, 57 percent of teenagers had met a friend online, according to the Pew Research Center.

Some of the Olds in the audience may tut at this: Can’t these kids make friends without their phones? But it’s not that social skills have declined or anything like that. It’s that digital natives are reconstructing online the meeting spots and adjacencies they don’t have in the real world. Already, some research suggests that people who use social media have more friends, and see them more frequently, than people who don’t. And Hampton, for one, thinks that further online connections between nearby strangers would benefit their communities and neighborhoods.

“When you build up local social ties, that has implications for collective action, community solidarity – even emergency situations,” Hampton said. “Whether those relationships begin online or off, it starts to solve some of the problems related to the loss of close social connections.”

© 2016 The Washington Post

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Tags: Airbnb, Ameego, Apps, Hey Vina, Social, Uber

Many Millennials Likely to Quit Current Jobs in 2 Years: Survey

Many Millennials Likely to Quit Current Jobs in 2 Years: SurveyNew Delhi: A significant number of millennials expect to quit their current jobs in the next two years on dissatisfaction over the way their leadership skills are being developed, a survey has found.

Individuals born between 1980s and late 1990s are referred to as millennials.

Apart from salary, millennials in the country ranked “opportunities to progress and take on leadership roles” as their strongest reason to work for an organization, the survey by consultancy Deloitte found.

“52 per cent of millennials surveyed in India say, if given the choice, they expect to leave their current employers in the next two years. That figure increases to 76 per cent when the time frame is extended to 2020,” the Millennial Survey 2016 said.

When it comes to choosing an organisation, the millennial also seeks a good work-life balance and flexible working hours including the option to work from home, as per the findings.

Deloitte India senior director and chief talent officer S V Nathan said the remarkable absence of allegiance represents a serious challenge to any business employing a large number of millennials, especially those in markets like India where they represent the largest segment of the workforce.

According to Mr Nathan, since most young professionals choose organisations that share their personal values, it is not too late for employers to overcome the loyalty challenge.

The findings are based on a study conducted by Deloitte Global of nearly 7,700 millennials representing 29 countries.

In India, the firm reached out to 300 millennials.

India is among five countries – South Korea, the Netherlands, Indonesia and Belgium – where a majority of the respondents could work from home, if they wished, the survey said.

In India, 94 per cent of those surveyed said that business success should be measured not just in terms of financial performance.

“Factors such as being a great place to work, having a satisfied and loyal customer base, innovation and work to protect and improve the environment were considered important to judge whether the business is successful,” it noted.

Besides, the country’s millennials also seem to be particularly sensitive to economic conditions.

“While on balance they are still positive about India’s economic outlook, their level of optimism had dropped close to 10 points to what was recorded last year,” the survey said.

Globally, the survey also found that inclusive work culture and culture of mutual support and tolerance are among the factors that promote a sense of positivity among millennials.