(Feb. 13) MONTREAL — The next generation of consumers, Generation Y, is known as the generation of brands. However, this generation isn’t loyal to one brand or another, making marketing to them increasingly difficult.

In a business session Feb. 7 at the Canadian Produce Marketing Association’s convention, Paul Paré, president of Tonik Marketing Inc., Montreal, said the easiest way to overcome this growing dilemma is to continually study food and consumer trends.

Knowing that only 22% of 18- to 34-year-olds are brand loyal, while 29% of 35- to 64-year-olds and 50% of 65-year-olds or older are brand loyal, sheds light on how much time companies must invest when marketing toward each generation. Understanding that baby boomers buy into the billion-dollar organics category and that organics are growing at an annual rate of 15% helps a company pinpoint a target audience for its organic brand.

Paré suggested having a variety of age groups on a marketing staff, too. This way, the staff can share their insights with each other and learn how different consumers respond to food trends.

In today’s society, consumers are looking for convenience, safety, nutrition, increased flavor, organics and customized food for the many ethnicities in North America, Paré said.

Companies also need to stay up to date on nutrition trends.

Leslie Beck, nutritionist with Nutrition Consulting Inc., Toronto, said the low-fat craze is a thing of the past, and low-carbohydrate, high-protein diets are the current craze. Beck said healthful convenience foods are the wave of the future, with 51% of consumers noticing an expansion of their store’s prepared food area in 1999.

Beck said the produce industry should make it easier for consumers to eat healthfully.

“Try to develop more fruit and energy bars and more single-serve produce options, and capitalize on consumers’ desire for nutrition information,” Beck said.

She also said that promoting five to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables is overwhelming for consumers. Instead, Beck said to break it down and show consumers how much a serving is and how much is too much.