A Mean Green Machine one day and a Franken Cream the next. Millennials post both their indulgences and their healthy eating on their Instagram. But is that what they are really eating?

According to a study done by Ypulse, 63% of young people ages 13 to 32 said that they post food pictures on social media. They post everything from avocado toast, to indulgences, like Unicorn Frappuccinos and Coney Waffle, but not much in between.

Whether it is healthy or gluttonous, the Instagramming of extreme food is changing the way we eat. There is lots of food being specifically created for the sake of “the gram.” There’s a good chance that no one would be ordering milkshakes topped with cookies, syrups, candies, and whipped cream, with more calories than one should eat in a day, if it wasn’t going to generate a lot of likes. The same may be true for a smoothie in a bowl with fruit and chia seed toppings. Shock factor simply gets more likes. And according to Zagat, 75% of avid diners say that they have picked a restaurant based on social media photos alone.

Let’s look at both extremes

Healthy Eating

Millennials drink kombucha, and eat quinoa and avocados, and talk about the health benefits of pretty much everything they consume. Appearing health conscious is clearly how they want others to see them.

On Instagram there are 35,101,238 (that’s 35 million!) posts with the hashtag #healthyfood and 34,606,877 posts with the hashtag #cleaneating.

Sweetgreen is a brand that really understands this consumer and created a brand just for them.  On their Instagram, which has 137,000 followers, they not only post pictures of gorgeous  salads, but they also include images that reflect the lifestyle by posting relevant music, exercise tips and cool projects from other sustainable brands. If you walk around Washington, D.C. where Sweetgreen was started, you’ll likely see Millennials wearing Sweetgreen t-shirts that say things like“Beets Don’t Kale My Vibe.” They clearly understand Millennials and have created a wildly successful brand around what they want. This doesn’t mean that everything at Sweet Green is healthy or that consumers are only buying what’s healthy, but it can provide marketers clues about what will get Millennials really connected to a brand.


The growth of “food porn” Instagram accounts, showing obscene amounts of decadent food are evidence of the rise of indulgences in popular culture. #FoodPorn has 140,304,994 (that’s 140 million!) posts on Instagram now. And major cities all have food porn Instagram accounts, for example: New York, @new_fork_City, Los Angeles, @lafoodieguy, Washington, D.C., @dcfoodporn, Miami, @miami_foodporn, and Boston, @bostonfoodies.

Starbucks has always taken advantage of what’s trending and indulgences are no exception. They saw the unicorn emoji trending on Facebook and the Snapchat unicorn filter and quickly  went for it (which by the way is critical for brands that want to capitalize on social media). They created a color changing drink that was offered from April 19-April 23rd. In another genius move, Starbucks leaked that the Frappucino was coming out and created huge buzz and demand. It worked. The Unicorn Frappucino was so popular that stores ran out of it really quickly. This does not mean that consumers are only buying indulgences, but it can also provide clues about how to get Millennials really connected to a brand.

What will get Millennials truly connected to your brand? Are there ways for you to get them to advocate on their behalf?

I can help. Let’s talk about how to make your brand truly Irresistible.