Every day, it seems like there’s a new piece of information that reveals another aspect of the Generation Z consumer. A new interpretation of research ripped from a recent poll. Or, a new voice contradicting those same stats that were shared the day prior.
But, over the next year, the food industry can expect to be influenced by the demands and desires of the young and opinionated Gen Z consumer, the 60 million Americans born between 1997-2012. Considering themselves to be foodies, these shoppers have tied their identity to their food choices. For today’s brands, this means authenticity will continue to lead the way and be a stronger force than ever before.
That’s because for Gen Z, one-size-fits-all solutions have become impersonal attempts at money-making. So, in anticipating that this ever-growing population of foodies will become more vocal, how can frozen food brands adapt to meet their needs?
- Rely on third-party certifications to build a dynamic, trustworthy label.
In the age of transparency, information – accurate and inaccurate – is constantly shared via every avenue possible. In light of this, Gen Z shoppers have learned to teach themselves how to better interpret nutrition labels and discern which brands are worth trusting.
Now, more than ever, third-party certifications carry weight. They have the ability to speak to a food brand’s inherent attributes, like whether it is gluten-free or allergen-friendly, but they also have the ability to speak to a food brand’s commitment to delivering a product that is transparent. Third-party certifications open up the conversation about transparency, as opposed to causing the shopper to initiate, question and search on their own.
From the transparency that comes from a third-party certification, trust is built between consumer and brand. For the frozen food category, loyalty will become an especially poignant desire within today’s coming-of-age Gen Z shoppers. As they move from aisle to aisle, we can expect that there will be less of an exploration of brands and more of a systematic approach to which have proven to be trustworthy, and which deliver consistent quality.
- Offer complex and authentic flavor without compromising convenience.
Gen Z has grown up in a fast-paced digital age, and in a culture that is America’s most diverse yet. Both of these elements have contributed to consumers who are adventurous and very open to trying new cuisines. In short, they’re driven by a higher food IQ.
For these reasons, the frozen food category can best cater to Gen Z shoppers by touting convenience, making it apparent that authenticity of flavor hasn’t been lost in the need for ease. The frozen food category has swung from one end of the spectrum to the other as either the sweetheart of the grocery store or as a forgotten aisle. Today, there is reason to believe its favor among Gen Z shoppers will shape it into a gem of the grocery store, once again.
In marketing the frozen food aisle, brands must consider how their story will be best told. As Mother Nature’s preservative, frozen brands can capitalize on the inherent benefits of the freezing process, but only as much as that information is shared well. It’s important that clear communication be used to tell shoppers that what they’re purchasing when they take a frozen brand off the shelf is just as flavorful and just as nutritious as a meal they could have made from scratch at home.
- Tout healthfulness.
Next to the importance of transparency and convenience is the desire for healthfulness. Led by the generation above them – Millennials – Gen Z consumers have been shaped into discerning shoppers. There is an increasing desire to match their food choices to their active and busy lifestyles. Just as the generations of shoppers demanded before them, Gen Z will continue to push the food industry to new heights.
For every desire for healthier alternatives that is voiced, there is a follow-up desire for food that exhibits interesting flavors, exciting varieties and innovative ingredients. The frozen food aisle must continue to innovate to match the increasing demands for wellness products, fitting seamlessly within Gen Z’s world.
As Gen Z takes the lead as one of the nation’s most influential groups of consumers, today’s brands can hold fast to the knowledge that nutrition and convenience remain at the helm, all supported by the need for authenticity.