What comes after X and Y? If you said, “Zed” or “Zee,” you would be partly correct. When it comes to demographics, the group order is Boomers, GenX, GenY, and then GenZ. That chronology of labels for the demographic age cohorts makes alphabetical sense, but it misses the bigger picture.
In an extensive profile of GenZ by Global News, GenZs describe themselves in a diverse number of ways. GenZ is a generation unlike any other, and they challenge the notion that they can be understood as a mere extension of GenY (Millennials).
In their own words…
- “We have a unique mindset”
- “Have our own way of thinking”
- “We know what we want”
- “We are creators, innovators, entrepreneurs, and Activists”
- “Technologically impacted”
- “We’re pragmatic, sensible, and seek value for money”
- “We want control”
- “Optimistic about what the future holds â€” and truly believe we can change it. But we have an emergency fund just in case”
Who’Z the boss?
GenZ may be young, but they’re already smart enough to know that their time is nigh. Consider that by 2026, in the US, GenZ is estimated to represent 23% of the population and become the single largest US consumer segment.
Depending on how you define the cohort, Generation Z makes up approximately 20 per cent of Canada’s population, based on 2017 data from Statistics Canada. In terms of purchasing power, GenZ in Canada directly spends about $50B annually. However, their influence over food decisions extends beyond this.
“We’re pragmatic, sensible, and seek value for money.”Generation Z
NPD Canada’s analysis of consumer foodservice purchases in 2019, showed that GenZ was responsible for:
- Driving foodservice traffic growth
- Having the highest relative redemption rate of foodservice purchases on deals
- The highest percentage of digital foodservice transactions
Getting to know GenZ
Kevin Stewart, founder of AgVision Media, an agricultural insights and consulting company, has developed a number of insights about GenZ and their impacts on the food industry:
- Their food choices are based on health, animal welfare and environmental sustainability
- They are driving the growth of the popularity of plant-based patties in foodservice and retail
- They “spend more money on food than they do on clothes”
- “They’re looking more towards what they call â€˜eating with a conscience'”
- More inclined to order food online than eat at a restaurant – “They want their food on the couch or on the go” — mobility is key
CauZes & effects
He suggests that the coming of age of GenZ will be a significant disruption for the food industry. With GenZ becoming your leading customer demographic, you may do well to question whether you’re in the restaurant business, or if you’re committed to leveraging technology and delivery solutions to meet the food and beverage needs of your clients. Clearly, this trend got turbo-charged as a result of COVID-19.
Foodservice and consumer insights provider Technomic recently published findings of their 2020 Canadian Generational Consumer Trend Report. The report benchmarks the current attitudes and tendencies of GenZ, and documents strategies that large chain operators are already implementing in response.
- Environmentally consciousness is a core value for GenZers
- Among GenZers, plastic reduction is evolving from preference to expectation
- GenZ over-indexes with operators that deliver convenience/mobility and value-for-money
Away from homeZ
It’s clear you’ll want to tap this generation.
My work/life balance does not permit me to prepare and/or eat my meals at home (by Age Group):
|1. GenZ (Born 1996 and later)||51%|
|2. Millennials (Born 1977 to 1995)||34%|
|3. GenX (Born 1965 to 1976)||20%|
|4. Boomers (Born 1946 to 1964)||12%|
Compared to last year, I generally eat outside my home more often than I used to (by Age Group):
|1. GenZ (Born 1996 and later)||51%|
|2. Millennials (Born 1977 to 1995)||30%|
|3. GenX (Born 1965 to 1976)||13%|
|4. Boomers (Born 1946 to 1964)||11%|
The future is now
If it feels like you were just being told about Millennials and the importance of that segment to your foodservice business, you wouldn’t be wrong. One of the unanticipated consequences of the adversity brought by COVID-19 has been to confirm that change is the only constant in foodservice.
Foodservice has shown a remarkable ability to quickly adapt operations in a myriad of ways. However, in a post-COVID world, the GenZ tsunami will rise fast. By all accounts, GenZ will lean heavily into disruption, with a generational understanding of their power to demand the reinvention of foodservice to meet their unique needs.