Why keep talking about Generation Z? Because in the next 2 years, they will make up 40% of consumers and their spending power will continue to grow. Understanding and exploring the many dimensions of this unique generation can help brands make long lasting connections as they come into their spending power. Wouldn’t it be brilliant to get connected to them now, instead of trying to win them back, like we did with Millennials?

Gen Z is food obsessed

Gen Z could also be called the foodie generation. And major influences in their lives like technology, social media, and the diversity of their peers are the driving forces behind this generation’s unique food and brand preferences. And how they interact with food could give clues to how they interact with other brands.

Transparency and Technology are just a way of life

According to the Hartman Group, Melissa Abbot, VP of culinary insights, early technology use is correlated to their desire for transparency when it comes to their food, “Gen Z is the first generation to completely grow up in the digital age, so to them there is no question that can be answered. This is really affecting the food that they eat because they want to know where it’s from, how it is grown and who made it”.

Clean labels and simple ingredients are just expected in the food they buy at the store and what they eat when they are out.

Brett Schulman, chief executive officer of Cava, a Mediterranean fast-casual based in Washington, D.C., said people are “demanding higher quality as well as better nutrition profiles”. Cava now has a nutrition calculator on their website that adds up the calories of each item you can add to your bowl so that their consumers know exactly what they are eating.

They measure everything!

Their extreme comfort with Technology lets Gen Z tap into constant streams of measurement. Food trackers, like MyFitness Pal, let them count exactly how many calories they are eating a day in real time and tells them how many they have left depending on whether their goals are to lose or maintain weight. Fitness trackers like Fitbit tell them how many steps they get, how many “active minutes” they have, and how many calories they are burning. And it goes beyond food and fitness. There are even apps, like Mint, to track how you are spending your money, what your credit score is, and what kind of changes you can make to improve your finances. These apps have created an entire generation of strivers.

Diversity in population means diversity in food, experiences, and social activism

By 2020, more than half of all US children are expected to be part of a minority. Diversity will continue to drive food culture trends we already see around the exploration of authentic, global food experiences. 66% of ethnic food eaters who are parents say their children (Generation Z) enjoy eating ethnic or international food.

And the desire for diversity translates to other things like travel. Generation Z is looking for diverse travel experiences, and they have a travel bug- averaging 29 travel days per year. 78% opt for off the beaten-path locations and rely on recommendations from locals. Their desire to explore cultures through flavor and experiences will continue to be a huge opportunity for brands.

And finally this diversity is leading Gen Z is to become much more involved in social activism at an earlier age, especially as it relates to equal treatment and social acceptance of all people.

The opportunity for brands to support the ideals of Gen Z is huge and growing. Starbucks gets it. They are committed to every aspect of diversity among many other socially responsible initiatives. They look for diversity in employees and suppliers which allow them to respond to the diverse needs of their customers.

These are the essentials that Gen Z has come to expect from the brands they support.

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