Did you know that at 72.8 million strong, Generation Z makes up a quarter of the US population? That's right - there's a new generation in town and at roughly 6 to 24 years old, they are starting to enter the workforce! Marketing veterans in the fresh produce space might agree that as an industry, we sat on our laurels when it came to preparing ourselves to effectively market to millennials. So in an effort not to make this same misstep, we hosted a Marketing Matters webinar last week to uncover the realities of marketing to Gen Z.
So ICYMI (in case you missed it), we've broken down several key points from our webinar beginning with who Gen Z is to how they will impact the future food landscape.
Who is Gen Z?
A majority of studies define Gen Z as currently being anywhere between 6 - 24 years old. Millennials were raised mostly by optimistic boomers who were doing quite well for themselves in the 80s and early 90s when millennials were born, whereas Gen Z is being raised by the more realist Gen Xers who have struggled during the 2008 recession. The result is a generation that is much more pragmatic, discerning and financially savvy. It's also fascinating to note that nearly half of Gen Z are racial and ethnic minorities - the Hispanic population has especially grown with this generation compared to millennials. They are also the most educated generation and are more likely to pursue college than any other generation - which is especially interesting considering the rising cost of college tuition. That might be why almost half (49%) of Gen Zers plan to contribute to their college tuition through their own personal savings. Bottom line: Gen Z loves to learn, they want to be educated and they are going to be more careful with their finances as a result.
How Will Gen Z Impact Food In The Future?
So let's get right down to it. As fresh produce marketers we need to know how this generation views food and we’ve identified several key areas of the food landscape that Gen Z will strongly impact in the coming years:
- Snacking - At school, members of this generation get an average of 25 minutes for lunch and rely on snacks to hold them over until dinner. According to a recent survey, 54% of teens preferred healthy snacks and 49% consume or were willing to try plant-based meat.
- Corporate Responsibility - When it comes to Gen Z, brands need to put their money where their mouth is. This generation cares deeply about supporting causes, brands and companies they believe have a positive social impact. In their eyes, businesses and corporations have an obligation to use their influence to positively impact the world - it has to be about more than just profits. So for food, Gen Z will look for sustainability, environmental and worker's rights related stories and efforts.
- Price Sensitivity - Because they grew up seeing their parents struggle through the recession, they are very price-sensitive compared to other generations. It’s important to communicate value in your marketing, especially with a premium-priced product. If a product is being sold at a higher price point due to sustainable packaging or something tied to a corporate or social responsibility story, they might be willing to pay more if you’re able to highlight that benefit to them. And if that doesn't work - keep in mind that they love deals. They're very willing to sign up for email lists to get 15% off - so email marketing and digital couponing should be in your marketing arsenal.
- Plant-based, Local, Authentic and/or Farm-Raised - According to Mckinsey, about 65% of Gen Zers try to learn the origins of anything they buy—where it is made, what it is made from, and how it is made. What a great opportunity for us as produce marketers! In addition, menu callouts such as “natural,” “organic,” and “sustainable” resonate with Gen Z more than any other generation, according to Flavor & The Menu’s Generational Flavors report. Gen Z is also more likely to be vegans or vegetarians, according to a 2019 Packaged Facts report and 65% of Gen Z say they want a more "plant-forward" diet, while 79% choose to go meatless once or twice a week. A report by global consultants AT Kearney goes so far as to say that by 2040, 60% of meat will no longer come directly from animals but will be derived from either cultured meat or plant-based alternatives.
Before Marketing To Generation Z, Ask Yourself....
- Gen Z is going to look for brands that they perceive to be authentic, inclusive and socially responsible, while also seeking out strong value for their money. As you look ahead and prepare your marketing to reach this generation, you should ask yourself:
- How should we communicate our brand’s promise through people?
- How can I highlight my employees as part of the brand?
- What can I teach to help my audience learn?
- What authentic influencers is our audience following that also align with our brand?
- Do I have enough content to reach them and is it in the right places?
- What does our brand STAND for?
Our recent webinar is chock full of even more takeaways, specific marketing strategies and examples of how you can market to Gen Z in an authentic and successful way. You can download the in-depth presentation here.
Are your marketing efforts ready for the realities of reaching Gen Z? If not, give us a call. We'd love to help you assess your current marketing plan and find ways to target this new generation of shoppers!