Bloomberg defines Gen Z as "the group of kids, teens and young adults roughly between the ages of 7 and 22" in 2019. The American Psychological Association starts Generation Z at 1997.
But no matter how you define it, this group of conscientious and purpose-driven purchasers is on its way to shaping the future of the food industry, so pay attention.
Gen Z makes up 24.3 percent of the U.S. population, according to the U.S. Census. Nothing to scoff at. That’s more than Millennials at 22.1 percent and more than Gen Xs and Baby Boomers. By 2020, it’s estimated that Gen Zs will have about $3 trillion in purchasing power.
So how do you engage this group of up and comers? It can’t be business as usual.
According to Michael Uetz, CEO of Midan Marketing in Chicago, “The time to learn everything we can about them is now. Each successful generation is only going to become more diverse, more digitally savvy and more demanding.”
Here’s what we know.
Gen Zs spend six to nine hours a day online, according to Common Sense Media. Because of this, it shouldn’t be surprising that they demand transparency in what they purchase. We know transparency is paramount with today’s consumer, but this will intensify with Gen Zs. Full disclosure and truth equate to trust. If they can’t find it, they’ll dig it up, or perhaps even create it.
They’re passionate about sustainability. More than two-thirds of consumers consider sustainability when making a purchase, according to the 2019 CGS Retail and Sustainability Survey. But Gen Z shoppers are the most conscientious and rank ethical business and manufacturing as one of the top factors when making purchasing decisions.
The Nielsen Global Corporate Sustainability Report demonstrates a trend with 61% of Baby Boomers and 90 percent of Millennials willing to pay more for sustainable products. We can only assume that number ticks higher for purpose-driven Gen Z.
Gen Zs are very interested in creating a “connection” with the people and companies behind the products they purchase. Professor, author and storyteller Dr. Brene’ Brown at the University of Houston explains connection like this: “It is the energy created between people when they feel they are seen, heard and valued.”
As you look to the future, don’t discount Gen Z.
First, up your online game. That’s where they live. Next, focus on transparency and demonstrating how your values align with theirs when it comes to animal well-being, sustainability, worker safety, food safety and responsible sourcing. Also, illustrate the story of your farm, company or organization through its people – think video, blogs, pictures with great captions, farm tours and community outreach. And finally, give Gen Zs easy access to you. Provide a platform for them to engage and get their questions answered.
It’s an opportunity to be embraced as this new generation comes calling with greater expectations for transparency, ethical practices and engagement.
Are you ready?