Millennials have had their time in the spotlight. Now, companies are looking to the next generation to see how they will impact the future of the food and drink industry. Generation Z, also known as the iGeneration, aged 11-22, carry the potential to re-set expectations for health and wellness, increase the reach of international cuisine and heighten creativity in the kitchen, according to the latest research from Mintel, Chicago.
Head start on a healthy lifestyle
Regardless of age, sugar is at the top of parents’ watchlists when it comes to what their kids eat and drink. In fact, 60% of parents with kids aged 12-17 and 55% of parents with kids aged 18 and over in the household report saying “no” to their kids’ food and drink choices based on sugar content. But, while sugar is a key concern for parents, just 11% of U.S. food and drink launches aimed at children (ages 5-12) from June 2017-May 2018 had low, no or reduced sugar claims, according to Mintel Global New Products Database (GNPD).
Likewise, 25% of teens aged 15-17 say they worry about staying healthy.
With parents on the lookout, America’s youngest consumers are increasingly growing health-conscious themselves. In fact, one quarter (25%) of teens aged 15-17 say they worry about staying healthy, with another 49% agreeing that they think drinking soda is unhealthy.
“Generation Z has come of age at a time when health and wellness is a major consideration. Many younger members of Generation Z follow their parents’ healthy ways, and it seems health-consciousness only gets stronger as they approach adulthood. However, health is multi-faceted for this group, suggesting that better-for-you formulations, such as craveable fruits and vegetables, can be expanded to give this generation options that fit with their ever-changing diet priorities,” says Dana Macke, associate director, lifestyles and leisure reports.
Gen Z goes international
Today’s younger generations are the most diverse in U.S. history, and in addition to their varied racial and ethnic backgrounds, parents are raising their children to have broader palates. Gen Z seems to be cultivating an appreciation for international cuisine from a young age, as 36% of U.S. parents of children under age 18 agree that their kids enjoy eating international foods.
Interest in international cuisine goes well beyond the more commonplace varieties such as Italian, Mexican and Chinese, as Gen Z consumers are driving consumption of more emerging international food and drink. In addition to interest in eating at international restaurants such as Indian (36%), Middle Eastern (38%) or African (27%), adult Gen Z consumers are also more likely than older generations to find culinary inspiration from social media. For instance, 62% of young adults aged 18-22 say they cook international cuisines at home from social media, compared to 46% of Millennials (aged 23-40) and 23% of Generation X consumers (aged 41-52) who cook at home.
“Generation Z is America’s most diverse generation yet. With exposure to international foods starting at an early age, whether in restaurants or at home, Generation Z is more likely to be open to the latest international food trend or innovative fusion creation. These adventurous habits are creating opportunities across categories, presenting potential for products such as tikka masala meal kits or Chinese Peking duck-flavored potato chips. While restaurants remain the most common points of discovery for international cuisine, younger consumers’ exposure to a range of cuisine types creates opportunities for brands to offer more authentic and hybrid flavors,” says Jenny Zegler, associate director, food and drink.
Digitally native upbringing leads to DIY mentality
Raised in an era where consumers have access to information at their fingertips 24/7, younger generations have grown up with the ability to thoroughly research their hobbies and interests, resulting in 80% of Gen Z consumers under age 18 saying their hobbies/interests are just as important as their school work. What’s more, 36% of consumers aged 10-17 and 31% of those aged 18-22 believe that being creative is an important factor to being successful as an adult. This highlights an opportunity for food and drink brands to offer do-it-yourself experiences that help tweens, teens and young adults be creative, and, eventually confident in the kitchen.
“The wide range of food media, whether MasterChef Junior or YouTube videos, has piqued an interest in food and drink among some members of Generation Z. This younger generation’s easy access to technology and interest in being creative presents an opening for interactive products that encourage Gen Z to safely experiment and extend their passion for food and drink, such as chips that allow consumers to make their own flavor or kits to make more complex recipes or international meals at home,” adds Zegler.