Generation Z, those born from 1997 to present, has the potential to take demand for “real,” unadulterated food to new heights, finds a new report from The NPD Group, a global information company. Raised by Gen X parents, Gen Z shoppers have higher consumption rates of organic foods and beverages than any other group, and they were taught at a young age the value of food in terms of function and nutrition and not just how it tastes.
Aged about 20 years and younger and representing 27 percent of the U.S. population, Gen Zs are assumed by many to be an extension of the Millennial generation, but there are differences that require grocers and food manufacturers to fine-tune their messages.
Gen Zs are similar to Millennials in that they demand authenticity, freshness and purity in the products they use, but even more than Millennials, Gen Z consumers say clean eating improves their quality of life and fresh foods play a large role in this lifestyle. This post-Millennial generation already is following through with this sentiment in their actions—Gen Z accounts for some of the heaviest use of organic and non-GMO foods, according to the NPD report, Make It Happen for Gen Z.
Gen Zs also differ from Millennials in their attitudes toward large, multi-national brands. When Millennials became adults and began grocery shopping, there was a noticeable shift in favor of smaller, niche, local brands. Prevailing sentiments among Gen Zs, however, represent a shift in this thinking. In many ways, Gen Z consumers think of themselves as having a personal brand with a story and values by which to live. They seek brands that support their story, and they are willing to use them regardless of a brand’s size.
“Food marketers should understand that this generation grew up knowing that food is much more than sustenance; food represents culture and therefore is an expression of who they are,” says David Portalatin, NPD food Industry advisor and author of “Eating Patterns in America.” “This generation was raised to be real and true to themselves and they expect the same from their foods and beverages.”