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Gen Z, the tech-savvy generation born between 1997 and 2012, is reshaping the food world through their adventurous palates, reliance on social media for food discovery, and desire for both familiar favorites and new flavors.
January 25, 2024
For a number of years, Millennials have taken centerstage when it comes to driving dramatic shifts in food trends and preferences. Now, Gen Zers are stealing the spotlight.
While Millennials were largely responsible for driving food mega trends, like making healthy, natural foods a top priority, Gen Z and Gen Alpha are dramatically changing the ways consumers gather information about food, how they connect with brands, and how they source food products and ingredients.
They’re also trying to find the balance between food adventure and food familiarity, according to new data from The Hartman Group.
Not surprisingly, technology has a large impact on younger generations, including how they shop, communicate and connect.
According to The Hartman Group’s Taste of Tomorrow: Navigating Food Through the Eyes of Gen Z and Alpha report, how Gen Zers, those between the ages of 13 and 26, seek out information and learn about food is dramatically different than other generations. For instance, 55% of Gen Zers tap social media for new foods and recipes. The preferred social media platform Gen Z uses for food discovery is TikTok, with nearly three-quarters of this group using the platform to gather information.
To purchase groceries, Gen Z enjoys taking advantage of the convenience offered by online shopping and mobile apps. The majority of this cohort (68%) shops for groceries online, with 16% purchasing at least half of their groceries online.
Gen Z further utilizes the digital landscape as an opportunity to connect with brands. The Hartman Group’s research shows the best way to connect with Gen Zers is by offering special rewards and digital discounts or coupons. In addition, one-third of Gen Zers said they would like to receive recipe information from brands or companies.
When it comes to their food, Gen Zers pursue both adventurous options and familiar favorites, The Hartman Group’s research shows. Findings indicate half of Gen Zers surveyed said they’d like to have more meals with unique flavors or different cuisines, and 32% said they love trying new types of cuisines and foods.
Yet, more than a third (39%) of Gen Zers said they prefer to eat the foods they’re familiar with.
These findings are echoed in recent data from Morning Consult, which agreed that Gen Z is more adventurous than other generations in food choices, but the group also generally prefers traditional foods. Morning Consult’s data found Gen Zers are 21% more likely than the general population to try a new beverage in the course of a month, and they’re 11% more likely to say they tried a new packaged food. Yet, pizza was dubbed the favorite food of Gen Z.
Indulgence is also on the food radar for a number of Gen Zers. Almost a quarter (21%) strongly agree that indulgent foods and beverages are important as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Rachel French joined Informa’s Health & Nutrition Network in 2013. Her career in the natural products industry started with a food and beverage focus before transitioning into her role as managing editor of Natural Products Insider, where she covered the dietary supplement industry. French left Informa Markets in 2019, but continues to freelance for both FBI and NPI. Connect on LinkedIn.
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