Thursday, January 26, 2023

Prioritizing Gen Z in 2023


Caution: Some of you may not like reading today’s blog…and, please keep in mind, these are generalizations backed by global industry research authorities. It’s not like I woke up on the wrong side of the bed and have a negative attitude. I did my homework!

Baby Boomers, the time has come. You are irrelevant for the majority of food and beverage innovation and marketing. You will get over it, hopefully sooner than later, because once you do, there’s a world of change waiting for you, a world where you can make a difference. 

Irrelevancy is nothing to us Gen Xers. I/We were never relevant, as Baby Boomers overshadowed us and then produced families—Millenials--that exerted their “powers of participation” to make themselves as important, if not more, than their Boomer parents. Well, that’s over with. Gen Z is where the action is. Consider this payback from Gen X, as Gen Z is our offspring. 

Gen Z watched their Gen X parents survive foreclosures and bury dreams of getting that single-family, white picket fence home in “a good neighborhood with good schools.” (My family of four never left our two-bedroom starter townhouse in Chicago.) During the 2008 financial crisis, they saw us shop sales and clip coupons. “No sale, no coupon, no box of cereal,” was a repeated phrase in my home. Hello Groupon, which began the same year. Groupon was the only ticket to having date night. 

And now, it’s 2023. Gen Z is growing up, and the ONLY demographic important to most marketers. The good news is, Gen Z may be more grounded mentally, physically, socially, and every …ally than any other living generation. To put it nicely, they’ve gone to H E DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS and back with the pandemic and they want change. They want a "Back to Basics" approach to eating. 

This past Wednesday (Jan. 25, 2023) afternoon, The Hatchery Chicago hosted a “Consumer Trends of 2022 and 2023 Predictions” conference. My forever professional friend, Lynn Dornblaser, director of innovation and insight at Mintel, shared some great insights based on her nearly 40 years of experience tracking global food and beverage trends. This Boomer knows—and embraces—that it is all about Gen Z. 

She shared some of Mintel’s leading food and drink trends. One is “Savvy Sustenance,” which is all about nutrient density, and being fueled by Gen Z who is savvy with their newly earned dollars.

“Although consumers may not readily know the term nutrient density, it is what they seek. It feels like the new way to talk about healthy,” said Dornblaser. “There’s opportunity to balance solid nutrition with a fair price.”

That’s screaming dairy!

Another is “Unguilty Pleasures.” Post pandemic, consumers are all about the freedom to indulge and to treat themselves. This is being fueled by…Gen Z, the demographic who was shipped back home while studying abroad in March 2020. The demographic who missed 8th grade, high school and university graduation ceremonies. They want their cake! They will eat dessert before dinner. 

“Often, pleasurable food and drink are marketed as being naughty, guilty or frivolous,” said Dornblaser. “This approach can be alienating for consumers—even those who adhere to healthy diets—who need some well-earned, guilt-free respites.”

She said that food innovators should focus on flavor and experience. It’s all about “small treats” or easily portioned products to allow consumers a well-considered treat.

That’s screaming dairy!

Need more Gen Z marketing direction? 
Here are insights from Cheyenne Hunt, J.D., (infographic source above) an advocate and attorney specializing in progressive activism, legislative advocacy, communications and democracy-focused tech policy.

She explained that Gen Z, the “iGen” demographic cohort born between 1997 and 2012, is the first to grow up fully immersed in technology. The belief systems and behaviors of Gen Z are a driving force not only in shaping culture, but economies at the global level. It’s imperative to understand commonalities in order to discern opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. 
She said that many Gen Zers prioritize their career and financial goals over immediate gratification in their personal lives. They are more materialistic and motivated to succeed than previous generations, with an overall goal achieving financial security and an upper middle-class lifestyle that now is seemingly out of reach for many as wages remain stagnant over time. 

Gen Z values a slower pace of life and is more focused on living in the present moment. Research shows that two-thirds of Gen Z is moderately to extremely worried about their physical and mental health, making health a high priority for this generation. They also distinguish between “quiet quitting,” which many in the generation believe is simply giving only as much into their job as their job compensates them for vs. “slow living,” which involves setting healthy boundaries between work and personal life.

Gen Z is known for their budgeting skills and understanding of credit. After watching their parents face the consequences of the 2008 financial crisis, they tend to be more financially savvy and responsible than previous generations. 

Call me crazy, but I think Gen Z wants to embrace dairy products. They want a "back-to-the-basics" approach to life. Make sure they remain relevant to this young cohort. Repeat after this Gen Xer: no one else matters, only Gen Z.   

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