With a lot of emphasis (and billions of research and marketing dollars) being placed on the food preferences of Millennial consumers, food manufacturers may be overlooking their younger counterparts — Generation Z.
The Gen Z population was born after the mid-90s and represents more than a quarter of the U.S. society. This post-Millennial generation has always lived in a digital world and likely never experienced life without GPS, cell phones, the internet, social media or Google, for that matter. Their ability to access and dissect information is second nature, and transparency is an expectation.
If you’re a food manufacturer, appealing to younger generations is key in positioning your organization for long-term success. Consider the following when developing formulations, choosing ingredients to capture the attention of Generation Z.
Transparency & Natural Ingredients
Even moreso than their older counterparts, Generation Z insists on clean, transparent labels and is skeptical of verbose label claims. They want to ensure that the food they choose to put in their bodies is healthy and free from artificial ingredients, chemicals, excess sugar and “big-sounding” words they don’t recognize. They want real food, plain and simple. Many manufacturers already have initiatives to clean up their labels, and up-and-coming generational preferences only accentuate this need. Brand loyalty is waning overall with younger generations in general, and they’re willing and eager to try new things — an opportunity for niche markets, yet a challenge for some larger, established brands.
Get the Free Guide: Tips for Cleaning Up Ingredient Labels
Ethnic Flavor Profiles
The young, stereotypical picky eater is becoming a phenomenon of the past. Younger consumers are more culturally diverse than any generation in the past and are generally subjected to various ethnic foods and global cuisines, as well as various fusions of flavors. This results in a group of consumers who are more adventurous in their food choices. Generation Z is also influenced by food trends seen on social media and will explore various ways to include umami and other taste sensations. They also prefer eating in groups and sharing food, especially snacks, appetizers and street food.
Ethical Sourcing & Environmental Impact
In an age of online reviews at their fingertips, this “want-to-know” generation increasingly seeks out and expects to discover details that were once unknown to the average consumer. Where and how a product is made is equally as important as what it’s made of, and what they discover about your organization and your products needs to align with their values. Thoughtful ingredient sourcing goes a long way as commodity ingredients increasingly lose appeal among younger generations, especially those sourced from countries that may have questionable growing or harvesting practices, or can’t prove the ethical treatment of animals and their workforce. Sustainability and environmental responsibility rank high due to concerns about climate change, and ensuring a strict chain of custody is paramount for food manufacturers.
The ingredients you use in your formulations matter more than ever, not only from a taste and functionality perspective, but from the way those ingredients are sourced and whether they align with evolving consumer demands.
Clean up your labels and consider reducing the amount of artificial gums and starches in your products with all-natural Grande Bravo® functional whey protein. It’s an exceptional ingredient that can also provide savings and improved nutrition when used as a replacement for eggs and high-cost dairy ingredients. It’s been incorporated into hundreds of applications, from creamy soups and dressings to baked goods, coatings, frozen desserts and much more.
Check out the guide to whey protein below, which outlines its many applications and benefits, and reach out to our food scientists to explore how it can be used in your existing formulations or those still in development.