Through a Lens: How Gen-Z Views Food


“Gen-Z”. The generation under the scrutiny of marketers who want to understand their shopping preferences, their consumer habits, and TikTok. Generally speaking, this generation is an ethnically diverse, socially-conscious group of digital natives who are growing up with unprecedented access to technology. As this group of people (born between 1995-2015) gets older, their impact on all industries, including the food and restaurant industry, is becoming increasingly evident. 

This generation is practical and realistic. They crave authenticity, which causes them to opt away from artificial ingredients and preservatives if they can help it. Ethical and sustainable sourcing is also important to them, as they are careful about the impact their actions have on the greater good. Studies show that Gen-Z is more eager than previous generations to go meatless, 79% of the generation wanting to at least reduce their overall meat intake in an effort to be more sustainable. As major influencers of the rise in popularity of veganism, they will find it odd if a brand or restaurant does not offer vegan and/or vegetarian options. In addition to wanting to see food brands be inclusive with their dining options, they especially appreciate brands that engage with relevant trends, and in some cases, politics. 

As Melissa Abbott explained in Food Business News, Gen-Z is all about transparency. “Gen Z is the first generation to completely grow up in the digital age, so to them there is no question that can be unanswered. This is really affecting the food that they eat because they want to know where it’s from, how’s it grown, who made it.” Perceptions of shadiness won’t be tolerated by these consumers. A good example of transparency that would resonate with Gen-Z is Grass Roots’ pasture-raised meat. They explain the mission and pasture-raised farm methods behind their products, and even emphasize transparency in their shipping process. Their digital presence is engaging and their message is clear. 

At the center of many stereotypical jokes about this younger crowd is the trend of photographing and posting meals on social media. This habit doesn’t come as a surprise, as this generation accounts for about 75% of Instagram users. In reality, the act of pausing for a moment to appreciate the meal and share it with others actually makes the meal more satisfying. A study from the Journal of Consumer Marketing found that the attention to detail and delay in gratification has a positive effect on the senses. 

Brands and restaurants can benefit from creating a digital relationship with their consumers through social media. It only makes sense to engage with consumers where they spend time – and in many cases for food, that is Instagram. An Instagrammable dish seen on social media is a call to action for these adventurous eaters.

In addition to Instagram, TikTok is also having a strong impact on this generation’s food trends and habits. Lots of food trends have gone viral on TikTok, especially with the help of the platform’s many food influencers. From cute cereal made out of tiny pancakes to recipes for full meals, TikTok’s bite-sized videos are perfect for sharing food content with Gen-Z.

Growing up with social media, Gen-Z’s digital attention moves at a fast pace. The short recipe videos through TikTok are this generation’s ideal way of learning to cook – convenient, clear, and fun. Brands can leverage this type of content to showcase how to cook with or use their products.

While Gen-Z eaters are adventurous and like a photogenic experience when it comes to food, they also appreciate convenience. Even before COVID-19, take out and drive through meals were increasing in popularity as younger people chose to take their food home and dine on their own terms. Often, this includes streaming something on the TV while eating. In this situation, the combination of convenient food and entertainment of their choice creates a tailored dining experience in the comfort of their home. Retail brands will benefit from this trend as well, as more and more grocery stores offer delivery or pickup options. 

It is key for brands to understand how Gen-Z’s conscious consumerism and digital habits affect their preferences in food and dining, and how those preferences will affect those industries as a whole. To learn more about generation z’s consumer habits, visit our POV analysis here


A New Generation to Feed by American Egg Board

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