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Generation Z and their impact on the food service industry

Generation Z (also known as Gen Z) refers to the demographic cohort after Gen Y (Millennials), with the average birth years ranging from the mid-1990s to mid-2000s. Gen Z grew up with the internet and social media right at their fingertips and their high level of digital literacy is reflected in the way they consume food and beverages. In fact, research from Mintel shows that Generation Z are “looking for a healthy lifestyle, enjoy eating international foods and are open to digital learning through online videos and other sources” [1].

 Portability as a key benefit

While some GenZs are still too young to order their own food, their consumption patterns are starting to shift the way meals and snacks are being developed and promoted. Representing 25% of total food service traffic, GenZs perceive portability as being the key benefit when choosing a snack. [2] Aside from portability, added nutrients and health benefits are equally important. Adapting foods for quick on-the-go eating is important to consider, as 31% of Gen Z have no choice but to eat meals on the run [3].

Media habits

On average, Gen Zs use their smartphones more than any type of device, totaling to an average of 15.4 hours per week[4]. With the high levels of smartphone usage, the findings from NPD’s Delivering Digital Convenience report come as no surprise: Gen Zs are regular users of restaurant apps and delivery. In addition, 61% will look up restaurant menus online. While most GenZ are still young consumers, their purchasing power shouldn’t be overlooked. In fact, the end of 2018 saw food-service delivery orders increase to 552 million dollars.

Healthy eating

In addition to on-the-go meals, healthy eating should not be underestimated either. Just like Millennials, GenZs are also showing growing concerns about their health. One quarter of teens aged 15-17 say they worry about staying healthy, while 49 per cent agreeing that they think drinking soft drinks is unhealthy.

Overall, GenZs are starting to reshape the world of food and beverage. While most research to date has focused on Millennials buying patterns and interests, GenZs are quickly maturing into a distinct audience with new interests and eating habits. In the following years, it will be interesting to see how this tech-driven generation will give rise to new trends and how this will affect the food and beverage industry

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