By Tulsi Joshi, Senior Food & Drink Analyst, Mintel Reports India

 Dairy milk* consumption in India is almost universal. However, Gen Z and younger Millennials (those aged 18-34) don’t see milk as essential for overall healthy living, not as much as older generations do. To future-proof the category, it is important to develop usage among this younger demographic.

Reinforce milk’s health quotient

 There are widespread calcium and vitamin D deficiencies among Indian consumers, resulting in high incidences of rickets and/or osteopenia/osteoporosis, which are realised at a much later age. Despite the long-inherited trust in dairy’s health benefits, only 39% of younger consumers agree that drinking cow or buffalo milk regularly is essential for overall good health.

To target the younger demographics, brands can focus on functional health claims as a means of elevating this household staple to a convenient, value add that addresses consumers’ health needs.

Added protein and digestive functionality are interesting benefits to pursue, considering there is high demand yet limited milk products available with such claims. Dairy drinks could also tap into other groups of ingredients, such as adaptogens which are claimed to be an antioxidant and supports immunity.

For example, Milbona UHT Omega 3 Milk is made with skimmed milk and contains vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E, B6 and B12, folic acid and calcium. It is said to provide 50% of the EPA and DHA omega 3 fatty acids needed during the day for the normal functioning of the heart.

Milbona Omega 3 UHT Milk (Source: Mintel GNPD)

Demonstrate green and ethical credentials

While health enjoys the spotlight as an immediate consequence of the pandemic outbreak, sustainability will become an increasingly important quality factor in the dairy category.

The media attention and regulatory focus on plastic pollution have accelerated the rise of environmentally friendly packaging and recycling claims in the category. Yet, as consumers’ awareness rises, just having claims on pack is not going to be sufficient. It will become important for brands to guide consumers on how to recycle the recyclable pack after usage and drive on-ground initiatives to ensure plastic pollution is brought under control.

Animal cruelty is also a focus area. According to Mintel research, 39% of Indian consumers aged 18-34 find animal cruelty-free dairy products to be encouraging to buy. Brands can appeal to these consumers with grass-fed claims and highlight dairy drinks made by cows that are allowed to behave naturally.

“Cows walk in lush green meadows, graze grass for 6h/d and 120d/y” (Source: Mintel GNPD)

Flavoured milk as affordable mood food

The search for new sensory experiences is driving experiential consumers to seek out products that can engage and excite, as explored in Mintel Trend Sense of the Intense. Further, Mintel data shows that 38% of younger consumers agree that flavoured milk is a healthy way to satisfy sweet cravings while 32% say it is worth paying more for flavoured milk with exotic flavours (e.g., dark chocolate brownie, passion fruit).

Brands can deliver greater excitement through new flavour creations with an elevated indulgence spin. For example, Barista Bros’ (Australia) range of chocolate milk is inspired by decadent desserts and has three variants: toffee almond panna cotta, dark chocolate fudge and butterscotch brownie.

Cafe Creations line of flavoured milk (Source: New Idea Food)

 With Indian consumers’ increasing interest in healthy food and drink, demonstrating dairy milk’s intrinsic nutrition with added functional health benefits, green and ethical credentials, and flavour innovation will be key to winning over the younger age groups and ensuring that the category continues to be seen as an essential and affordable staple to their daily diet.


*Includes: White milk (cow and buffalo milk in all types including semi-skimmed, skimmed, etc.); flavoured milk (flavoured animal and plant-based milk)

*Excludes: Yogurt-based drinks