CHICAGO – Millennials have had their time in the spotlight; now, companies are looking to the next generation to see how they will impact the future of the food and drink industry. Dubbing cohorts of Generation Z who are aged 11 to 22 as the iGeneration, Mintel says this demographic has the potential to reset expectations for health and wellness, increase the reach of international cuisine and heighten creativity in the kitchen.
Mintel suggests that America’s youngest consumers are increasingly growing health-conscious, with one quarter (25%) of teens aged 15-17 saying they worry about staying healthy, with another 49% agreeing that they think drinking soda is unhealthy.
“Generation Z has come of age at a time when health and wellness is a major consideration. Many younger members of Generation Z follow their parents’ healthy ways and it seems health-consciousness only gets stronger as they approach adulthood. However, health is multi-faceted for this group, suggesting that better-for-you formulations, such as craveable fruits and vegetables, can be expanded to give this generation options that fit with their ever-changing diet priorities,” said Dana Macke, associate director, lifestyles and leisure reports, at Mintel.
Today’s younger generations are the most diverse in U.S. history and in addition to their varied racial and ethnic backgrounds, parents are raising their children to have broader palates. Gen Z seems to be cultivating an appreciation for international cuisine from a young age as 36% of U.S. parents of children under age 18 agree that their kids enjoy eating international foods.
Interest in international cuisine goes well beyond the more commonplace varieties such as Italian, Mexican and Chinese, as Gen Z consumers are driving consumption of more emerging international food and drink. Adult Gen Z consumers are also much more likely than older generations to find culinary inspiration from social media: 62% of young adults aged 18-22 say they cook international cuisines at home from social media, compared to 46% of Millennials (aged 23-40) and 23% of Generation X consumers (aged 41-52) who cook at home.
“Generation Z is America’s most diverse generation yet. With exposure to international foods starting at an early age, whether in restaurants or at home, Generation Z is more likely to be open to the latest international food trend or innovative fusion creation. These adventurous habits are creating opportunities across categories, presenting potential for products such as tikka masala meal kits or Chinese Peking duck-flavored potato chips,” said Jenny Zegler, Associate Director, Mintel Food & Drink.
Read more about Gen Z attitudes toward food in the July NACS Magazine feature, “Better for You.”