5 ways Gen Z is disrupting the food industry

Food is one of the greatest passions of young people today. From growing health awareness to social media-driven food fads, Gen Z are reshaping the food sector to suit their tastes. Here’s how they’re impacting the industry, and how food brands can win with this highly engaged market.

Healthy living

Internet access has made young people more informed about the nutritional value of different foods and the best ways to stay fit and healthy. According to our latest Youth Trends Report, 47% of 16-24s check the ingredients of a product before purchasing, while 46% check the calories. Meanwhile, 81% have changed their eating habits over the past year.

Bon appétit

Our research has found that Gen Z prefer doing almost all online activities in app, including ordering food. Most top chains now have their own app, including Starbucks, McDonald’s and KFC. Those who don’t can usually be found via services such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats, which appeal to young consumers’ desire for convenience and tech innovation.

Cater to me

Much has been made of the rise of veganism among Gen Z, and while the numbers are still pretty minimal (only 2% of UK 16-24s are vegan), many more would like to eat vegan if it was more affordable and easily available. They view brands more positively when they cater to dietary requirements, from veganism and gluten-free to halal and kosher.

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Food trends

Young consumers love to try out the latest food trends, if only for the cultural capital and the social media photo as proof. Quirky takes on old classics are always intriguing, such as the rainbow bagel, rolled ice cream and canned wine. They’re also keen to try out healthy or ethical alternatives, such as vegan fried chicken and plant-based burgers.

Is it Instagrammable?

From the restaurant decor to packaging and the dishes themselves, food brands are more concerned than ever about aesthetics. Just like Millennials, Gen Z love to share food pics on Instagram, but they’ll only give up a spot on their grid if the food looks good. For brands that pass the test, this is a great way to gain more visibility and viral reach among young people.

Hear from some of the biggest brands in the food industry, including Subway, Burger King and Starbucks, at our upcoming festival of youth marketing, YMS19 NYC.