All eyes have been on the Millennials over the last five years as they’ve been the big spenders in the food and beverage category, the ones forging the path of new trends and changing the way we create, serve and deliver food and precincts around the globe. The Millennials were part of a transformation, a technology upgrade which allowed information to be spread like wildfire making it more important for operators to be transparent, conscious and connected in their food offering. Now we’ve got Generation Z waiting at the door, those who were born in the mid-90s to early ‘00s, and who came of age in a time when iPads were everywhere, all mobile phones were smartphones, and social media was the norm. This population group are the up and coming big spenders and the ones who have been exposed to what it means to be connected, transparent and conscious from the beginning of their time.
The connectedness of this generation is what sets them apart from generations gone by. Their ability to access information and be aware of what is going on around them is greater than any other age group and it plays into what they want out of life, what they perceive as important and what they want to experience. And this includes their food choices. Here are the top 8 food preferences that are showing to be important for this generation group.
The Top 8 Food Preferences of Generation Z
1. They are conscious of price point – this is a population group who consider cost over any other generation. This might be due to their age at the moment but they are showing signs of seeking value for money and will decide on their food choices based on this. They've grown up aware of what debt from education fees and living costs mean making value a key priority for them.
2. They want natural, organic and sustainable – even the youngest of this population group are aware of the planet and the responsibility they hold to protect it. That’s why they are asking for the food and beverage brands they invest in to be natural, organic and sustainable to support them in eating consciously. Surprisingly, they are less focussed on nutrition than the Millennials but with natural, organic and sustainable food being at the top of their priority list, nutrition comes naturally.
3. Snacking is a preferred and growing way of eating – the lines of meal times are getting blurred and this generation enjoys building meals by putting together a number of snacks rather than having just one item on a plate at one certain time. They also move fast, stay up later, wake earlier meaning they want all types of foods to be available to them during any day part. Eggs for dinner? Go for it.
4. Chicken is their preferred protein – 46% of Gen Z prefers chicken for dinner.
5. Hamburgers won’t be leaving the trend list – Chicken might be their preferred protein but, like generations gone by, it’s still the faithful hamburger that this generation praises. It looks like that trend is here to stay but this time they will be organic, local burgers made from the highest quality ingredients.
6. They want transparency – with information at their fingertips, there is an expectation for transparency from this generation. They need to know about where their food comes from in order for them to feel like it's a brand worth supporting. Sourcing has been an important factor for Millennials and it will continue to be so for this group of conscious diners.
7. Allow them to connect with the food before they’ve visited – they rarely go anywhere without their phones and this this includes the dining table. Technology, photography and social media is a part of their day-to-day lives and this includes in their dining experience. They want to be able to order meals, split the bill, browse menus and leave real time reviews as they dine.
8. They ‘grab and go’ more than any other generation – this generation likes to skip the restaurant seating and take their meal outdoors or to the couch. This means they will want online ordering options, meals that are transportable and take away friendly.
As this generation moves in the driving seat of spending, it is going to be important for all business owners to ensure they are meeting their wants and needs. For food business owners, developers and centre managers, it will mean ensuring the above preferences are considered when determining menus, technology integration, food and beverage operators and overall precinct masterplans.
Credits - cover image via Y Pulse