This new generation is unlike any other. Gen Z is curious about their food, where it comes from, how it affects their health and the environment, and how it aligns with their values. Gen Z has distinct values, behaviours, fears, and priorities, and their purchasing power is growing.
This generation, born between 1997 and 2012, is truly poised to change the face of food.
So, how do we reach out to the Gen Z consumer? The important thing is to meet them where they are.
“Engaging Gen Z: The Consumer, The Farmer / Rancher, and The Workforce,” a new report from The Center for Food Integrity (CFI), takes a comprehensive look at Gen Z and provides strategic guidance on how to engage to earn trust.
Knowing the Gen Z consumer allows you to tailor your approach to connect with them.
Provide What They Want
A CFI Gen Z IlluminateTM Digital Cultural Insights report tells us a lot about this young consumer segment, including five eating habits trends that can help food companies inform product and marketing strategy. IlluminateTM uses digital ethnography to analyse millions of online interactions in real time, revealing demographics, values, attitudes, fears, behaviours, information sources, brand preferences, and more.
According to the study, brands that can meet needs in these niches have a better chance of appealing to Gen Z.
1. Intelligent Indulgences. They believe that by prioritising vitamin-rich ingredients and practising portion control, they can make their snacks and desserts fit into a healthier lifestyle.
2. Developing a Better Relationship with Food: They believe intuitive and mindful eating will help them develop a healthier, stress-free relationship with food.
3. Balanced Nutrition: They believe that rather than restricting their diet, they can optimise nutrition by developing a habit of eating a wide variety of foods, particularly plant-based foods.
4. Clean Eating: They believe that eating for long-term health entails avoiding processed ingredients and foods high in sugar, salt, and unhealthy fats in favour of more simple, whole foods.
5. Sustainable Eating Habits: They believe that they should do everything possible to reduce their carbon footprint, such as limiting meat consumption and purchasing local ingredients.
Highlight Resonant Technology
Technology enables the food industry as a whole to produce better, more sustainable food. However, without trust, the necessary innovation may not be accepted.
Gen Z values and champions technology, having grown up with it and seeing it as a means of addressing some of the world’s most pressing issues.
Communicate with Generation Z about food production technology and upcoming innovations that will provide the taste, quality, health, and sustainability attributes that they value.
CFI research on why consumers accept or reject food technology demonstrates how to engage to earn trust. When communicating about food technology, such as gene editing, primary messages should include key trust drivers such as food safety, sustainability, the naturalness of the technology, and making information easily accessible and understandable.
Provide resources such as independent research (particularly on food safety) and third-party verification whenever possible, and make information on which food products contain gene-edited or other technology easily accessible.
It comes as no surprise. This consumer segment values social media.
According to a Harris poll conducted in the United States on behalf of Sprout Social, 66% of Gen Z consider social media to be an important part of their lives. According to Statista, YouTube has 79% of the market, followed by TikTok and Instagram with 59%, Snapchat with 48%, Facebook with 43%, and Twitter with 34%.
Utilize social media in novel ways, such as:
Lead with engaging and trending content that encourages two-way interaction while remaining authentic and transparent.
Collaborate with Gen Z influencers to create content that promotes how specific foods align with Gen Z’s lifestyle and health goals.
Use video as much as possible – and not just short videos; research shows that longer-form videos, particularly vlogs of interest and how-to videos, are appealing to Gen Z as well.
Offer experiential engagement opportunities, such as CFI’s Best Food Facts TASTE Tour in Texas (highlighted in the guide), to give Gen Z a behind-the-scenes look at how food is grown, raised, and produced, as well as an opportunity to share with their online audiences.
Engage trustworthy, authentic spokespeople who are relatable, have integrity, and share Gen Z values. Credentialed individuals who fit the bill are even more influential, as Gen Z values objectivity from third parties.
Concentrate on a cause. Based on ethics and values, Gen Zs are more likely to choose one brand over another. Do you have a set of principles that you follow and amplify as a company? What causes do you believe in? Because Generation Z is curious, make sure your message is clear.
The segment is particularly interested in sustainability, and they are concerned about climate change. One-third say climate change has a significant impact on their daily food and beverage habits, and 75% believe the world has reached a tipping point.
There’s a lot more to discover. Investigate the guide, a one-stop shop for understanding a powerful generation on the rise. Please contact us if you have any questions. We’re here to assist you.
Also, please let us know if you’d like Engage Gen Z training for your organisation, as well as a presentation or Gen Z consumer panel at your next event. We’d be happy to discuss hosting an influencer tour as well, which would help amplify the good news about what’s happening in food and agriculture today to Gen Z peer audiences.