Gen Z values clean labels and authenticity: NPD report

Bakers Journal
January 31, 2018
Written by Bakers Journal
Chicago – Generation Z, those born 1997 to present, expects food and food brands to follow their needs – which include authentic businesses and transparent labelling – and not the other way around, suggests a new study by the NPD Group.

Generation Z now represent almost one-third of the U.S. population, a larger group than millennials, and although only older Gen Zs are entering adulthood, their impact on the food industry is already being felt, said the international information company in a news release.

According to the report, entitled “Make it Happen for Gen Zs,” these potential customers, many of whom were raised by Gen Xers, grew up understanding the purpose of food and how it fits into a well-lived life. As a result they have set expectations that food and food brands will follow their needs and not the other way around.

Customers of this generation are unintentional foodies and were brought up in a culture that talks about, celebrates, and entertains with food, according to the report, which takes explores the attitudes, behaviour and voices of this generation.

They are told at an early age what their food can do for them in terms of functional and nutritional value and not just how it tastes, bringing a new definition to the “value” of food. Gen Zs, like the millennials, prefer food and beverages with transparent labelling and an absence of artificial ingredients, and are skeptical of big brands and too many label claims, the research suggests.

Growing up with a greater emphasis on flavour and function rather than brand will make this generation more challenging for food marketers to reach. They want authenticity. However, the term means not only clean and fresh but also brands that honestly offer experiences, according to CultureWaves, a firm that monitors consumer behavioural trends and an NPD partner on the report.

This tech-savvy generation, who never knew a world without the internet, also seek personalization, engagement and fluidity – such as portable foods – to meet the needs of their busy lives.  

“The more I study trends in retailing, foodservice, and eating patterns, the more I become convinced that the macro themes emerging in consumption behaviour are generationally driven,” said NPD’s David Portalatin, author of Eating Patterns in America, in the release. “Gen Z’s will be a seismic force for the food industry as they emerge into adulthood under more prosperous economic circumstances, yet with their own differentiating set of values.”

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