By Kamila Gierut, Digital Marketing Associate

Millennials value authenticity and experience, leading them toward artisan and craft goods. Symrise NA engaged with Millennials to better understand the meaning of “craft.” We discovered that it was a multi-dimensional concept answering personal and social needs that is fueled by the human desire to share and help others through sharing. We share because we are human – it is who we are innately. When discovering something new, we are interested in taking a journey together, which we found to be especially true when it came to craft goods.

The Symrise team also participated in a “Craft Trek” in Brooklyn, NY to see how how each element of craft is being expressed in real life. We used “lateral thinking” to translate what was happening in each location on the trek into learnings. We combined our observations/learnings on the trek with our learnings from millennials to build actionable insights about how to create craft food and beverage products.

CLICK HERE to learn how Positive Obsession fuels the creation of Craft Foods

For the “Encourage Sharing” portion of Craft, we trekked to Habana Outpost, a community gathering space for families serving traditional Mexican and Cuban cuisine; Chips, a community of Brooklyn neighbors and volunteers helping those who are less fortunate; Blossom Ice Cream, a shop serving Thai inspired ice cream rolls; Oddfellows Ice Cream, an innovative parlor serving up unconventional flavors of ice cream and finally, Radegast Hall & Biergarten, a traditional style beer garden with communal tables and imported brews. Check out our learnings below:

1. Building a Community With Open Arms

If you didn’t notice, the word “community” came up a few times within the location descriptions above. It’s not a coincidence, sharing really is all about community. Sharing is a good feeling for both the giver and the receiver. As humans, sharing with others makes us feel special and that makes us want to share more – resulting in a snowball effect. For craft brands, sharing is about building a community of excited consumers and making them feel like they belong. For Millennials, enjoying artisan treats needs to be more than just a transaction – it’s about the interaction. They want to be taken into consideration and need to feel welcome from the moment they walk in the door to the moment they leave.

Radegast Beer Hall offered communal style tables and bench seats, which gives an opportunity for customers who don’t know each other, to sit and engage with one another, making it a great place to revisit and share a story over a beer with some strangers. Remember the saying…strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet! OddFellows offered many options and serving sizes that provided an opportunity to share, like their ice cream flights with 6 scoops and as many spoons as you need. Artisan goods are not mass-produced items and brands want the environment in which they are served and consumed to feel as intimate as how their products are made. The best feeling a producer can impart to consumers experiencing their products is, “Welcome to our home.”

2. The Odder the Better

When it comes to social sharing, especially for millennials, the odder the better. Consumers go out of their way to seek out different, odd, creative, and even wacky food experiences, not only because they enjoy finding these products but because they love to share them through social media platforms. This way, they bring others into the mix, but it also serves as a way to demonstrate that they are fun, adventurous, “in the know” and have proof that they were there first. For a generation raised during the social media boom, this is a motivating factor, which can be a very successful tool for brands looking to tap into the Millennial mindset. This “odd experience” could be a flavor or an experience that mainly Americans are not exposed to regularly.

A great example is when we visited Blossom Ice Cream. Thai rolled ice cream is currently trendy because it’s a different take on ice cream – not only for the way it’s made and served, but also because it’s experience. From start to finish, customers gaze through the glass with phones recording, while the employees happily put together a beautiful cup of customized ice cream. An interesting observation – not one person dug in before taking a picture! OddFellows is also known for being unique and fun, serving up out of the box flavors like Black Pepper Fig, Lemon Rosemary Olive Oil and Chorizo Caramel Swirl. Again, we saw everyone from millennials to boomers whip out their phones to make sure they’ve captured the experience. Once the experience is shared on social media, the likes and comments start rolling in as “rewards” for being so adventurous. It’s no surprise that businesses serving up the most Instagrammable foods are among the most successful.

CLICK HERE to see how Carefully Chosen Elements of Craft will help your Brand

3. Pride, Passion and the Craft of Sharing

“Odd” only goes so far – Millennials do like to find the next BIG experience, but they also want to know that there is a genuine story and passion behind the brand. That is where craft brands truly shine. The more excited the staff is to share information to raise awareness about product, practices or missions, the more consumers will feel connected and inspired to share this new information. Habana Outpost was proud of being eco-friendly (using rain water use, recycling, solar power, etc.) that they posted their initiatives across the restaurant for everyone to see and even handed out flyers of upcoming community events where all are invited.

Chips Food Bank was incredibly impactful. Denise Scaravella, Executive Director at Chips, proudly told the story behind the soup kitchen, getting emotional at times. She expressed the dedication behind not only the volunteers, but the homeless as well. She told us “those who don’t have, still share.” Even the people coming to the soup kitchen to eat make it a point to help clean up and do what they can. We also learned they get weekly donations from Park Slope Food Coop down the street, cementing our idea that community is key. The group was surely impacted by this visit and just as we were walking out, we glanced up to see a sign that read “Happiness never decreases from being shared.”

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4. Nothing to Hide Here: Transparency

Nowadays, Millennials want to know what’s happening behind the scenes - where their food is coming from, who is making it/how they’re making it, etc. The more information, the better. We experienced multiple employees at different establishments sharing information with passion and pride like they own the establishment, including at Radegast Beer Hall, where they spoke knowledgeably about the different beer choices and gave us informed choices. The employee there made sure that we were not only satisfied with our beers, but also had knowledge of the beer, now giving us the ability to educate someone else. The employees at Oddfellows proudly told us where they source their dairy and ingredients, keeping it as local as possible. Again, we see this sense of community. It’s not about hiding what’s in the “secret sauce” anymore. It’s about building trust and forming relationships based on the sharing of information that lets the product speak for itself.

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