Generation Z, born between 1997 and 2005, is often referred to as the digital generation. That is true and they are also the age group that over-indexes others when it comes to using digital technology for personalized health advice, for interaction with brands and digital experiences. 90% of Gen Z uses digital platforms to learn more about health and nutrition.
The Digital Generation
Globally, Generation Z is crowned the title of the digital generation. While all age groups are just as likely to use tech to connect or for work purposes, Generation Z takes the cake and is more likely to also use it for shopping and learning. Furthermore, they over-index when it comes to digital entertainment and play.
Nearly half of Generation Z follows food and beverage trends on social media, seeking advice that aligns with their health goals and looking to cooking videos for recipe inspiration.
An example of these recipes includes the viral Gigi Hadid Pasta and baked feta pasta. Additionally, 42% of Gen Z actively share their views online, taking their online platform rather seriously and providing online reviews compared to 30% of other age groups. They are more likely to use more visual media such as TikTok, YouTube, or Instagram than other generations.
Zoomers – the ‘b’ in boomers replaced with the ‘z’ in Gen Z – also over-index other age groups using digital technology for personalized health advice, interaction with brands, and digital experiences. 90% of Gen Z use digital platforms to learn about health and nutrition.
Healthy Living and Eating
Generation Z greatly emphasizes their health in terms of diet, fitness, and wellness. They over-index on being influenced by sporting goals, peer pressure, and media coverage. They show above-average interest in exercise and in addressing mental and physical wellbeing compared to other age groups when they take direct action on their health. They are more likely to adopt a broader range of tools to tackle mental and physical health, including greater use of technology, professional input, and functional food and beverages. Regarding health expression in their diet, they are more likely to limit calories and snacking and pay less attention to scratch cooking as a healthy choice. They consider fresh and natural products essential when seeking healthy food options, and they demand further sustainable and ethical value in their products.
Sustainable and Ethical Lifestyles
While millennials and Zoomers are both committed to environmentally conscious living, millennials are the most strongly committed to environmentally friendly living. Their commitment may stem from greater financial stability and broader resources that allow them to adopt stronger measures. Zoomers come in third at 1% less environmental commitment than Gen X, as they are more likely to take everyday actions. They claim to shop conscientiously, with 64% of Zoomers claiming they choose food based on its environmental impacts compared to 42% of other generations. When considering “clean label,” they pay more attention to ethical-related aspects and organic farming than pure naturalness. Gen Z also says they prefer to look at the big picture regarding the environment, pay more attention to biodiversity and climate impact, and take the time to educate themselves. They are more interested in plant-based diets than older consumers and are influenced by multiple factors, such as the environment and sustainability, when making this choice.
Concerning their lifestyle choices, Gen Zers also over-index on direct action relating to ethics-themed and social issues, including boycotts and protests.
Cooking and Convenience
Generation Z is less likely than older consumers to cook from scratch and more likely to use convenience foods. Their idea of scratch cooking is broad and includes heating prepared dishes or meal centers. The use of convenience foods is also increasing among North American Generation Z, and their choices are becoming more modern, e.g., increased use of fast foods and meal kits.
Younger consumers are also more likely to seek social experiences through convenience foods and comfort and better taste experiences. The biggest deterrents to convenience are cost and lack of nutrition. Another aspect Generation Z over-indexes on is demanding greater choice.
Social Lives and Pleasure
Generation Z seems slightly more socially active than their elders, with 37% claiming to be moderately or very active socially.
Social media and online gaming are their top social outlets, with less emphasis on activities outside the home. Generation Z is also less likely to value family social activities.
Besides their social outlets, Zoomers index differently to older generations when seeking pleasure. When seeking pleasure or reward in life, Generation Z over-indexes for shopping, entertainment, sports, and adventure. Hobbies ranked as their top answer, ahead of time with family and friends, a solid first priority for other age groups. Generation Z is also under-indexed for travel and “me” time as sources of pleasure. When seeking pleasure from food, Generation Z is more likely to target taste than nutritional or production values.
Crisis Response and Issues of Concern
When asked about various global crises, Generation Z appears to be less concerned than older consumers. However, they over-index for concern about climate incidents. They also experience anxiety rooted in the presence of global crises and prioritize time with friends and family to cope with their anxiety. They are also greatly concerned about social media, with 1 in 4 Zoomers saying that they cut back the time they spend on social media to help cope with their anxiety.
The cost-of-living crisis affects every generation, and they cope differently. Gen Z consumers say they are more likely to cut back on take-out food or other food deliveries to combat the effects. They consider online shopping more expensive, too, with 1 in 4 consumers cutting back their online shopping to save money.
As for planning the next steps of their life, Generation Z is likely more future-thinking, expressing more concern about job security, education, and wages.
Considering future spending, Generation Z will prioritize their finances and their health. However, compared with older consumers, they are more likely to target education, fashion, hobbies, and excitement.
Almost 2 in 5 Generation Z anticipate spending more on food and beverage next year. Past surveys suggest that this age group is more likely to see increased food spend as a boost to emotional wellbeing rather than simply a response to price inflation.
In line with this, Generation Z is also more likely to treat themselves in the coming year, over-indexing in virtually all areas of treating (with the main exception of travel). They over-index most for fashion and personal care treats, which signals an expectation that looking good means feeling good.
This article is based on our report, “Zooming in on Gen Z: Exploring Lifestyles and Attitudes in the US & Canada.”
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