Bellevue, WA — The Hartman Group, Inc. is releasing its Taste of Tomorrow: Navigating Food through the Eyes of Gen Z and Alpha in December. It will look at what is known about the two demographics as they move through formative life stages with access to information, technology and global culture. It examines what is shaping them into some of the most adventurous consumers to date.
The report will build upon existing insights the company has on the demographics, while combining newly fielded quantitative research with in-depth ethnographic consumer immersions. While much is still to be discovered on Gen Z in this new study, The Hartman Group’s prior research indicates that Gen Z’s expectations are sky-high. They expect more from their food and beverage occasions than older cohorts, which is evident in their preferences toward premium qualities.
Hartman has observed seven over-indexing need states that help shed light on Gen Z’s emerging food values.
Exploration & Familiarity
Gen Z has grown up exposed to a rich spectrum of cultures and lifestyles, whether discovered online, through their social circle, or in a local bodega. They view themselves as citizens of the world and want their food to reflect this multicultural outlook, incorporating a variety of global cuisines from Italian to Middle Eastern into their everyday eating. Don’t confuse this with a distaste for familiarity, however: 39 percent of Gen Z consumers prefer to eat the foods they’re used to. Depending on the occasion, needs for “authentic global flavors,” “high-quality artisan foods or ingredients,” or “foods or beverages with a unique story” come to the fore.
Health & Wellness
Growing up during a global pandemic, health and wellness are essential concerns for Gen Z. While COVID-19 made these consumers acutely aware of both personal and public health issues, many have also watched their parents struggle to un-learn the so-called toxic diet principles that plagued older generations.
As a result, Gen Z has an increasingly holistic view of health and places significant emphasis on mental wellbeing. Just scroll TikTok for a few minutes to observe the consistently viral trend of #selfcare on display. Seeking out health-related information through non-traditional mediums like podcasts and influencers is second nature for these digital natives. Both social media and food can be means for satisfying needs around “connecting socially with others” and “exploring new ideas/expertise about healthy living” for Gen Z.
The “better-for-you” movement is part of Gen Z’s DNA — and it extends far beyond the nutrition panel. They’ve embraced the idea that more intentional production methods lead to foods and beverages that are not only healthier and tastier, but better for the community and the planet. In fact, 69 percent of Gen Z consumers base their food and beverage purchasing decisions on environmental or social well-being issues at least sometimes. Key need states that speak to these values are “positively impacting the environment/society,” and “engaging with people who care a lot about food/the food system.”
This generation is redefining what it means to be a discerning consumer. Gen Z’s appetite for exploration, holistic health and a more sustainable world will shape the future of the food and beverage industries. To respond, companies and brands need an even deeper understanding of the cultural forces influencing these consumers’ attitudes, behaviors and choices.