GEN. Z – THE NEXT GENERATION!
Today, the focus of most food and beverage marketers is how to engage in conversation with the millennial consumer. Understandable given their purchasing power and most are just in the midst of commencing their business careers. Yet, executives are already being warned not to forget about Gen Z. Read on as why dwell on who is this consumer segment, what impact will they have on brands in the food and beverage industry and what are their expectations of brands.
Gen. Z is a multicultural population featuring consumers born between 1997 and 2012. They also represent the first generation to completely grow up in the digital age. As their so young, it is not known exactly how they’ll be as adults. However, this sector is being defined by their resolve. “Gen. Z see windows where others see walls. They are not afraid to create those things that they want but cannot find”. Lynne Gillis, I.R.I. Research also reveals:
- Z cares more about personal success and being perceived as successful than other generations.
- Z is more concerned about purchasing brand name products and buying products to make them happy.
- Z is more likely to say they are willing to pay more for a product that helps them convey the right image.
Gen. Z presently makes up 25% of the Canadian population, which makes them bigger than both boomers and millennials. In the next few years, that figure grows to 33%. In the United States, they already represent up to $143 billion in buying power – and that’s without accounting for the influence they have on household spending. In Canada, that translates up to $15B dollars. Parents also note the influence this sector has on household purchases. Ninety-three percent (93%) of parents admit their children influence family and household purchases. 
When it comes to food and beverage, the majority of them view “clean eating” as improving the quality of life. They are also extremely educated about what goes into their food and drinks. As they get into adult hood, “the food and beverage industry should expect a greater emphasis on safety, elevated demand for organic products, and heightened interest in not just a product’s attributes, but how it was made and by whom”.  As the most multicultural population, the authenticity of the cuisine is especially important, since Gen. Z wants to truly experience the food of other cultures.
Gen. Z wants to be heard and it is extremely important brands do what it takes to connect and build subsequent relationships with them. They find it extremely important to trust brands and a good majority of them do trust many long-established brands. To that, in a study from Retail Perceptions, 
- 81 percent of teens will switch from their “favorite” brand to a similar product that’s of a higher quality;
- 79 percent indicate that quality is their main decision-making factor when purchasing, not necessarily the name-brand;
- 72 percent of Gen. Z will switch to a new brand if they find a similar product for a lower price.
If brands can’t meet the price and quality expectations of this generation, they’re automatically irrelevant.
With a new dawn comes a new era. While Gen. Z will take some time to fully age into maturity and bring their economic and social power to bear, food and beverage marketers can start preparing for their rise now.