Young people eating together, Gen Z students
This group of American consumers is discerning with evolving flavor preferences.

CHICAGO — The next generation of American consumers is ethnically diverse, tech-savvy and on the move. Technomic’s Special Topics Study, “GEN Z: Decoding the Behaviors of the Next Generation,” finds that they are discerning consumers, driven mainly by flavor, and that their flavor preferences, while still relatively simple, are just starting to show some sophistication. As they mature, they are more influenced by their peers and by digital and traditional media.

“Gen Z is the first generation to experience multi-channel and digital marketing on a daily basis, and almost since birth,” said Jackie Rodriguez, senior manager at Technomic. “As older Gen Zers’ sphere of influence widens, they still look to outside sources of information rather than making independent decisions. Dining and food choices should be positioned as collaborative and coming from trusted sources.”

Some key findings from “GEN Z: Decoding the Behaviors of the Next Generation”:

  • Erratic Eaters: Gen Zers are more likely to skip meals altogether than they are to use food service at nearly every daypart. Our research suggests, based on the fact that they are usually doing another activity while snacking — especially a passive one like watching TV or listening to music — that there is a lack of enthusiasm for current snack options, presenting an opportunity for food service.
  • Born Foodies: More than any previous generation, Gen Z has been exposed to global food influences and a more holistic approach to health and wellness. Good-tasting, high-quality, craveable food is by far the strongest driver behind Gen Z restaurant preferences.
  • Speedy and Social: Gen Z consumers value speed and digital engagement from food service, but also seek social eating venues and occasions where they can hang out with friends.
  • Age Appropriate: As Gen Zers mature and gain earning power, they view their choices as more independent.