Thursday, August 3, 2017

Gen Z Knows Protein

Make sure you keep dairy proteins relevant to Gen Z, powerful young consumers who are now coming of age.

Protein…it’s the buzz word in most of the back-to-school product and promotional news releases I have been receiving the past few weeks. This protein comes from many sources and in many shapes and forms and is shaking up the food culture in America.

Gen Z, which is comprised of boys and girls born from the mid-1990s to the mid-2000s, is also increasingly a leading topic in my newsfeed. They were raised during a recession by parents who often stressed about money. They learned to appreciate eating family dinners at home, while at the same time they are an on-the-go generation that seeks out convenient, value-priced portable food options. They often opt to pack a snack rather than pay a premium while out and about.

They also know protein. Protein-rich foods have been an integral part of most of their life and this is likely to continue. They appreciate the nutrition, the energy and the satiation that protein provides. It’s important to keep dairy proteins relevant to these powerful young consumers who are now coming of age.

Based on the many Gen Z research reports I have read, here are five food facts about Gen Z and their influence on dairy foods innovations.

1. Gen Z grew up drinking yogurt.
Dannon’s Danimals drinkable yogurts debuted right around the time the first Gen Z’s learned to hold a beverage bottle. They’ve been drinking yogurt ever since and continue to appreciate this format. The time is right to offer new concepts that speak to their changing taste preferences and nutritional needs. This includes higher protein and caffeinated (for energy) products.

2. Protein bars replaced candy or granola bars in their lunch boxes.
You say tomato, I say tomahto…Millennial parents thought giving their kids a granola bar was a healthier choice than a candy bar. More often than not, this was not true. Both are loaded with sugar and not much else. Then entered the protein bar, the favorite go-to-snack for parents of Gen Z and eventually Gen Z’ers. Gen Z knows that choosing protein is smart. It’s always been a part of their life and they are open to trying new formats. Protein-powered ice cream, cheese snacks, puddings and cultured dairy are great portable concepts for this convenience-driven demographic. 
New Yasso Frozen Greek Yogurt Sandwiches are a product with Gen Z appeal. The portable protein treat come in Mint (mint frozen Greek yogurt between dark chocolate cookies) and Vanilla (vanilla frozen Greek yogurt between dark chocolate cookies) varieties. A 3-ounce sandwich contains 5 grams of protein from the Greek yogurt and added milk protein concentrate.

3. Soda machines were removed from their schools and school-provided lunches got healthier.Real-life nutrition education made its way back into the classrooms of Gen Z. Teachers and coaches influenced what snacks could be shared at birthday celebrations, holiday parties and after the big game. Gen Z learned to read food labels to make sure the snack met the criteria. They are saying goodbye to sugar—La Croix is their preferred carbonated beverage--and artificial additives. Dairy foods are real, whole foods.

4. Gen Z leans towards real foods to refuel and energize versus supplements and quick-fixes. Chocolate milk—especially protein-enhanced versions--for refueling resonates with Gen Z. Cold-brew lattes beat Red Bull hands down. 

5. They value authenticity, simplicity and sustainability more than customization and organic, but the latter two are still important. Environmental education has Gen Z asking critical questions about their food. Many of their schools have edible gardens, aquaponics and composting. They want to know who is growing their food and how, as well as the waste stream. This is a generation that only knows life with a recycle bin, maybe multiple bins to separate the various streams. They are attracted to sustainable food practices and foods from Mother Nature. Organic sounds nice, but it’s just another label, and Gen Z does not like labels. To them, the story is more important. They want transparency from farm to fork, which makes dairy very relevant.

Trader Joe’s, with its on-trend, lower-cost private-label products, resonates with Gen Z, a generation who was raised during a recession and understand the concept of value. The retailer recently rolled out Avocado Citrus Greek Whole Milk Yogurt. Known for its tart flavor and thick texture, Greek yogurt becomes even thicker and richer when made with whole milk and blended with buttery-soft avocados. This product is brightened with real blood orange concentrate and sweetened with cane sugar. A 5.3-ounce cup contains 11 grams of protein, 190 calories and 15 grams of sugar. It sells for sells for 99 cents.

Gen Z promises to be an enjoyable demographic to innovate for and market to. They are curious, adventurous and transparent, and they want their foods to be the same. It’s time to start brainstorming and getting creative for this group.

Want to learn more about Gen Z? Use this LINK to download a complimentary white paper from Millennial Marketing.

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