Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials; we all know and love them, but who comes next? Generation Z has the spotlight now. Industry leaders are already clamoring to understand what makes them tick—and with good reason.
This tech-savvy, socially conscious group is already making waves in our economy. It’s time to shift our focus toward this up-and-coming generation to figure out how they’re going to affect the food industry.
Generation Z: Who are they?
Generation Z is also known as the iGeneration or ‘Gen Tech.’ This Post-Millennial demographic was born between the mid-1990s and the mid-2000s. While part of this generation may still be too young to do their own grocery shopping, they’re already having a growing impact on our economy.
According to Forbes, Gen Z makes up 25% of the current U.S. population. The older curve of this demographic is just starting to step into independence, but the young adults shouldn’t be overlooked, since they’re having a strong impact on grocery shopping at home. Generation Z is already setting marketing and economic trends that take us away from what we’ve known from the previous generation and into brand-new territory.
What makes them so special?
Generation Z is the most socially conscious generation we’ve known. They’ve lived all their lives with an abundance of information only a click away. This has ushered in a heightened awareness of ethical practices and social justice, with an innate desire to do what’s right.
Backed by reviews for every product and business, this group knows how to spend their money in a way that’s in line with their values and they want to support companies and products with similar standards.
Gen Z’ers are ethical consumers
Their spending is motivated by ethics in business and transparency in all matters related to their products. When combined with an increased awareness of personal health, Gen Z’ers become conscious foodies. They’re especially concerned with brand integrity and food quality, and they want to know they’re putting their money to good use.
Growing up during The Great Recession has taught this generation something that most say Millennials are lacking. Generation Z watched their parents struggle financially, so they’ve learned a thing or two about household budgeting.
They love eating at home
Food researchers have found that a favorite place for Gen Z’ers to enjoy meals these days is at home. They’re more inclined to cook for themselves versus eating out, and they’re looking for good value, too. Food media has influenced this generation like never before, with many shows catering to kid chefs and bakers. These shows and videos have inspired a whole generation to get off the couch and into the kitchen.
They enjoy sharing their food-related experiences
Generation Z isn’t just cooking more, they’re sharing more, too, with 95% already having a digital footprint. They love to share their favorite recipe videos, their wins and fails, and products they love with their friends and followers.
Gen Z has always had the world at their fingertips, making them generally open-minded, cultured and interested in unique experiences. With a love for eating in, we’re going to see a big shift in the way this budget-conscious group is grocery shopping to create these unique, adventurous experiences at home. A desire for new dining experiences may present fresh opportunities for food product development. Gen Z is not looking for mundane; they’re brave, confident, and ready to wow in the kitchen.
Looking for a sense of community
Online grocery shopping and convenient store pick-up services are on the rise, and that’s not changing anytime soon. The practicality of services like Amazon Prime Pantry, Amazon Fresh and other mobile-friendly ordering tools is appealing to these internet natives. However, online grocery shopping lacks a level of personal contact that this generation craves.
This is why smaller, niche brands and specialty grocers are also seeing growth with the maturation of Generation Z. These young adults want more than just convenience. They want to connect with their community, and they want the experience of shopping for something new and unique. Ordering grocery staples online is one thing, but this demographic is also carving out time to stroll aisles and browse shelves for those special brands and ingredients they can’t live without.
In the coming years, we’re going to see a new demographic of shoppers hitting stores. For the first time since apron-clad housewives were serving up regular dinners, a boom of at-home chefs will be making their way into a kitchen near you. They’ll have a budget on their mind, with a persistent desire for something fresh and new, from sources they can trust and can share with their friends.