It's debatable whether millennials are special, but one thing is certain: Their relationship with food is. They want it to be authentic, they want to know how it was produced, and they want it to be a shared experience, preferably involving small plates eaten at communal tables.
Time Inc.’s Food & Wine is becoming the latest to target the generation, with a new food brand, FWx. Because millennials grew up online and consider food part of a way of life, FWx, going live today, is designed responsively with smartphones in mind, with a heavy emphasis on content related to eating and going out.
“We feel like it’s a totally untapped market for lifestyle content,” said Alex Vallis, the editor of FWx. A veteran of NBC’s The Feast and New York magazine’s Grub Street, she’s doing double duty as the digital features editor for Food & Wine. “We wanted to target this group of 25- to 35-year olds who are just obsessed with eating and drinking and going out.”
That means that in addition to cocktail recipes, readers will find advice on recovering after a late night out, tips on assessing your date’s sexual personality by his eating habits and cheat sheets to make you sound smart at the next cocktail party.
“This demo, they’re omni-saturated,” Vallis explained. “They want to read about food in these other contexts. You want to go to this party and have a really good time, but you want to look informed.”
While Food & Wine boasts an A-list of chef contributors like Grant Achatz and Anthony Bourdain, FWx is fielding contributors from nontraditional places, signing people like Twitter star Julieanne Smolinksi (@BoobsRadley) and Jimmy Kimmel Live! writer Noah Kaufman.
The generation that grew up on BuzzFeed also loves social media but apparently has a short attention span. You won't find long-form articles on FWx, but brief posts and 15-second videos. The site also will offer plenty of ways for users to contribute and share content via their social networks.
FWx is the latest entry to the bounty of media outlets catering to the young food-obsessed and the advertisers who want to reach them. Vice and Fremantle Media are launching a new online food hub. Yahoo is planning a new digital magazine around food, along with other online publications.
Renaissance Hotels became one of FWx's launch sponsors because the site is aimed at the hotel chain's target market of millennial business travelers, said Dan Vinh, vp of global marketing for Renaissance.
“We really like their point of view and the way they talk about food," he said. "They take the food point of view from musicians and comedians and skateboarders."
FWx will be free to users, and so-called native advertising, which blurs the line between ad and edit, will be a prominent part of the offerings. For one launch advertiser, Coach, FWx is enlisting freelance musicians, DJs and journalists to create articles about looking your best and fashion figures to know.
For Renaissance, FWx is creating an ad unit that will be populated by travel articles that were created by its editorial team. After the articles appear on the site as editorial content, they'll run in the ad unit, which will also be distributed across other Time Inc. titles, said Nick Van Sicklen, vp of digital for Food & Wine.
Renaissance and Coach were joined by a third launch advertiser, Stella Artois.