Millennials are still a force; their buying power is projected to soon surpass that of the Baby Boomers this year.1 However, Generation Z is emerging on the scene as they begin to earn money of their own, graduate from college and move into adulthood and the workforce. We now know that Millennials prefer convenience, eating out, on-the-go meal options and meal kits. In sum, a large number of Millennials don’t really want to cook at home as much as previous generations do. We know that Millennials are more health conscious and don’t look at claims such as “fat free” or “sugar free,” as they want wholesome and real food. As marketers, we get Millennials and know how to reach and resonate with them. But as food marketers, and those in the food industry that feed the next generation,– the post-millennial generation, or iGeneration or Generation Z, born between 1997 and the present – we need to seek to understand them.

Similarly to Millennials, Gen Z expects on-the-go convenience, personalization and cleaner labels.2 Authenticity matters, as they seek transparency of labels and ingredients they can pronounce and recognize. But how are they different? For one, they are a larger cohort, representing 27% of the U.S. population.2 Because of this and their significant influence on household purchasing decisions (47% participate in grocery shopping according to IRI3), they have already begun to impact the food industry.

Here is what we know:

  • Gen Zers understand the purpose of food. For them, flavor, function and authenticity win. These things are more important to them than brands, making Gen Z more challenging to reach.2
  • Yet, Gen Zers also rely on brand recognition to make purchasing decisions.3
  • Pairing the above two points with the fact that authenticity is key, how a brand aligns with this cohort’s individual ideals will be a key motivator.3
  • Unlike Millennials, Gen Zers have never known a world without digital and social engagement.5
  • They are more connected, more culturally diverse and expect food brands to reflect it.5

So how do brands reach them?

  • Use your influence for good. This next generation is looking to “vote” with their income. In fact, three-fourths of Gen Zers have purchased or are open to purchasing a brand to support what that brand stands for. They will not purchase a brand if it does not align with their values.4
  • Gen Zers are looking for experiences. Teach them something or provide them with a resource.5
  • Offer them more globally inspired flavors and more variety – it is a greens fee.
  • Media-wise, social and word-of-mouth is key. More Gen Zers are hearing about new menu items from social media, from friends or through TV and display advertising.5
  • Visuals are also very important. With this generation constantly communicating in visuals, food brands should take advantage of this.5

In summation, Generation Z has food purchasing power that will only continue to grow. The biggest mistake marketers can make is to assume that they are like their Millennial predecessors. Their preferences are nuanced and how we reach them is as important as the message in which we reach them.

Sources:

  1. , https://www.inc.com/business-insider/millennials-food-industry-preferences-eating-out-restaurant-prepared-meals-catering.html
  2. Prepared Foods, https://www.preparedfoods.com/articles/120976-generation-z-the-unintentional-foodies
  3. Candy USA, https://www.candyusa.com/news/brand-authenticity-vital-to-reaching-gen-z/
  4. MediaPost, https://www.mediapost.com/publications/article/319160/gen-z-puts-brands-on-notice.html
  5. SmartBrief, http://www.smartbrief.com/original/2018/02/how-restaurants-and-food-brands-can-win-over-gen-z