Consumer Insights: MTV’s and Subway’s ‘Hunger Game’

Whether they’re healthy eaters or would like to improve their eating habits, the overwhelming majority of Millennials are food-conscious, according to a new joint survey from MTV and Subway Restraurant. The research on Millennial eating habits uncovered new insights into this generation’s perceptions on the connection between food and health. The study also revealed mealtime trends among Millennials, as well as findings on health versus hunger, generation gaps and food shaming.

Key Findings:
An overwhelming share of young people view their eating habits as needing room for improvement, with 80% admitting that while they sometimes eat healthy foods, they don’t go out of their way to avoid the bad ones.  

  • 9 in 10 respondents think “it’s important to be conscious of what they put in their body”
  • Nearly half of respondents (45%) favor the “I eat whenever I’m hungry” approach to eating while others take  alternate measures to regulate food intake:
  • 22% eat three meals with snacking
  • 14% eat little meals throughout the day
  • 7% count calories or utilize portion control
  • 3% eat three meals without snacking
  • Half of all respondents say that taste is the most critical factor when choosing a fast food restaurant, with value, cleanliness, variety and nutritional transparency rounding out the top five respectively.

Food Shaming: Friends Don’t Let Friends Eat Unhealthy

  • One third of respondents say they have either been pressured by peers or have pressured others for not eating healthy.
  • Approximately 40% of people surveyed felt guilty after eating unhealthy food when dining out, while others (11%) eat healthy “so friends won’t criticize me.”
  • One third of Millennials noted that healthy eating has become a trend amongst friend circles.
  • 52 percent of Millennials polled cite their reasoning for eating healthy is “to look good.”

Generation Gap

  • Nearly two thirds of respondents (60%) agreed their personal views on healthy eating differed in comparison to their parents.
  • 41% reported that, when visiting their parents, there’s food the second they step in the house
  • 60% reported that their holiday dinner was a “smorgasbord,” including multiple entrées, side dishes and desserts with lots of leftovers

Most Important Meal of the Day: Millennials are more likely to skip breakfast in favor of dinner.

  • Millennials consider dinner to be the most important meal of the day (38%), followed by breakfast (29%).
  • 6 in 10 polled cited that life is so busy that they don’t follow a regular meal schedule.

Brands and marketers can better connect with Millennial consumers by leveraging this generation’s food-consciousness.

This survey was fielded by MTV Insights in the United States via The Pulse, a proprietary MTV panel of nearly 3,000 Millennials ages 14 to 34 on behalf of the SUBWAY® brand from October 15-November 1, 2013. MTV Insights is part of the research division of MTV.

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