LONDON: Many food and drinks brands are missing an opportunity to reach one in five of the UK's population as new research shows that very few millennials feel that their family-focused advertising is relevant to them.

Creative agency Haygarth and brand insight specialists Flamingo polled 1,000 18-29 year olds and 250 parents. They found that only 11% of the younger age group thought food advertising in general was aimed at them.

Brands appear to be ignoring "the Instagram effect", Marketing reported, as millennials shared images of their food on social media on average three times a week.

The importance of social media was further highlighted by the finding that almost half (47%) cited this channel as a major source of cooking inspiration.

In contrast, 70% of parents had never shared a picture of their food on social media and only 15% were inspired by cooking ideas they found there.

Millennials were also twice as likely as their parents to be attracted to new product messaging, and the importance of the visual element was reinforced as they said attractive packaging design significantly impacted their purchasing decisions.

Novelty was another factor: more than a third (35%) tried six or more new recipes or ingredients each month, compared to fewer than 13% of parents.

Sophie Daranyi, Haygarth CEO, noted that this age group was already spending almost as much as their parents each week on food. "As they progress through their lives and their disposable income grows, the opportunity for brands who successfully recruit them as advocates is immense," she said.

Family-oriented messaging does not just exclude millennials, however, according to Martin Oxley, managing director of online market research provider Buzzback, who pointed out that "there are multiple issues going on with the fragmentation of households and older people living longer".

He told The Grocer: "I suspect that middle group is getting smaller and we should be looking at the peripheral – whether that be millennials, singletons or older people – a bit more."

Data sourced from Marketing, The Grocer; additional content by Warc staff