We’ve heard about millennials for quite some time but there’s a new generation taking the headlines by storm. Generation Z is quickly changing the landscape of marketing.

As digital natives and overall tech-savvy young adults and teens, this generation is changing how we market everything. And we mean everything. From technology to food, a shift has been felt in how we connect with and sell to Gen Z.

Who is Gen Z?

While there’s some debate about when this generation starts, it’s generally agreed that those born after 1996 define this cohort. Each generation has major life events that influenced their lives. Baby boomers grew up during the Vietnam War and the Watergate Scandal, Gen X experienced the end of the Cold War and the rise of internet, and millennials were kids during 9/11 and grew up in the shadow of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For Gen Z, the impact of the Great Recession, terrorist attacks, climate change, mass shootings and so much more influenced their views of the world. They’re skeptical and very individualized, looking to make their own mark in everything they do. As digital natives, social media has become a cornerstone to ensure their voices are heard.

It’s all in the experience

Gen Z loves the experience a product or brand provides and loves sharing that experience on social media, which is essentially free advertising.

When it comes to food, they typically don’t experience anything without a phone in hand. When they’re at a restaurant, the phone eats first. Whether it’s placing an order, reading reviews or posting a picture, Gen Z knows exactly what to expect, thanks to the sharing culture that surrounds them.

For Gen Z, good service goes beyond providing a quality product. This age group demands a quality product and a quality experience, and the two are not mutually exclusive. Provide them with both and you’ve got yourself a winning brand that will often promote itself.

 

FOMO and DIY

FOMO. Gen Z has it and they have it bad. The fear of missing out is ever present with this generation. From nudging in on friends’ plans to adopting the hottest trends, Gen Zers are always trying to be on the in.

Along with FOMO, Gen Z loves DIY. A do-it-yourself mentality spurs their eagerness to help create brands and products. Gen Z is hungry to collaborate with winning brands. They want to help companies reach goals by offering insights to enhance features and improve overall quality.

So don’t wait to roll out a product until it’s perfect. Let Gen Z join in, whether it’s the beginning stages of product development or beta testing. They love to be a part of the creative process and the food industry can benefit from establishing customized products tailored to Gen Z.

Micro-influencers

Traditional advertising doesn’t always cut it with Gen Z and they’re often not persuaded by big name celebrities who endorse products. Instead, Gen Z often looks to micro-influencers to inform their buying decisions or to find products to suit their lifestyles.

Micro-influencers are individuals that typically have a following of 1,000 to 100,000 people. These individuals focus on a specific niche and cater social media content to fit their audiences. Even if they are paid to promote products, micro-influencers believe in what they’re promoting and want to provide followers with information on brands they can stand behind.

This is especially true within the food space. Micro-influencers promote anything from restaurants to food trends and even specific food products. Gen Z trusts them because they feel this method of advertising is more authentic than traditional advertising. Even though micro-influencers have a small degree of fame, Gen Z has the opportunity to engage and talk with them directly, providing a deeper connection to products and brands.

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy

That’s just how Gen Z likes it. This cohort enjoys kicking back and letting someone else make the food. And we’re not talking about restaurants. Gen Z is attracted to easy-to-prepare meals and snacks. From frozen meals to canned and prepackaged foods, these young adults want ease and convenience in their meal prep. Gen Z also prefers to eat multiple snacks throughout the day rather than eating three main meals.

It’s not enough to simply provide them with easy meals, though. Gen Z is much more health conscious than previous generations and places great emphasis on eating foods with higher quality ingredients. So, just remember this; easy and healthy is the name of the food game for Gen Z.

C|O Insights

Each generation presents marketing challenges and Gen Z is one that is always evolving. This generation demands instant gratification and expects everything to be tailored to them. With increased access to social media and the internet, it’s easy to promote or scrutinize products and brands. So, how do you keep up?

Our team of subject matter experts focuses on food and agriculture—farm field to processing to entrée on a plate. We can help you build a new brand, protect an old one or target customers to foster sales. Let’s talk when the time is right to handle your next strategic marketing and communications challenge: Mark Gale, mark.g@co-nxt.com.