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A Different Breed: Grocery Marketing for a New Generation


Members of Generation Z (born 1995 and after) are quickly approaching a status of being powerful consumers for brands and retailers. These 60 million-plus consumers are entering the most influential stages of their lives and developing consumer habits at an early age. Their parents have different cooking habits than the generation before them with a larger focus on healthy, nutritious meals. Because of this, Gen Z consumers have grown up with a different expectation of meals and grocery products.

Food is an experience for this generation and should be treated by brands as such. Incorporating social media and influencers into the marketing mix to add personalization to this experience can be an important step for grocers dealing with a new consumer group. Let’s delve into this unique generation of shoppers and how to market to them at the market.

Reach Them Online

Generation Z has always had access to the Internet and rely on it for a majority of their purchasing decisions. Nielsen reports that 28 percent of Gen Zers are ordering groceries online. With online grocery services growing in popularity, it’s increasingly important for retailers to keep these consumers coming to brick and mortar stores. Entice Gen Z to shop in-store with incentives like in-store only coupons or a special discount for “checking in” on social media while shopping. Additionally, these interconnected, young shoppers resonate with recommendations from people they follow on social media. So when brands work with social influencers, they have a better chance of benefit of reaching online grocery shopping fans to go in-store to buy the product through personal recommendations and compelling content. Bottom line, Generation Z is looking for customization, not necessarily the easiest way to do their shopping.

Home Cooked Meals and Fresh Ingredients are Preferred

Microwavable meals will not generate a round of applause from Generation Z. According to a study. by The NPD Group, Gen Z members are done with processed and ready-to-eat foods. They want home cooked meals that provide value and nutrition because this is what they’ve grown up eating from their new age parents. Gen Z is most active on Snapchat and Instagram. They’re visual consumers, so sharing visual content on brand social channels as well as repurposing influencer content will get them involved with your products. A Snapchat filter that is enabled when Gen Zers steps in the store can get help them to interact with your brand and share their experience with their friends through social.

Gen Zers are especially fond of breakfast foods like eggs and proteins that require more cooking time versus cold cereals. For marketers this means recognizing your audience and finding the sweet spot for reaching Gen Z in the grocery aisles. They might not resonate as much with ads for frozen waffles, but will be more interested in a recipe offered online to them that incorporates a waffle mix that adds fresh eggs and milk to be paired with bacon for a full meal. Not only does this sell a specific product, it encourages a Gen Z consumer to go to other parts of the store to discover additional products for pairing items.

Gen Z Will Pay More for Health Food Products

While many members of Gen Z are still living on their parents’ income, over 30 percent of the generation claimed to be more willing to pay for healthy and premium food products according to a Nielsen study. The willingness to pay more for premium grocery products decreases with other generations - 29 percent of Millennials and 26 percent of Gen X members share this desire.

Brands and retailers that have organic or natural foods lines can count on this generation for revenue. Influencer recipes incorporating several health food products at a specific retailer can help Gen Zers build shopping lists at your specific retailer after they’ve made a connection before ever going in-store. Recommendations from influencers can make the shopping and research process much more personal for this group of consumers. Providing usage occasions is a great way to engage Gen Z and make them feel like a part of the brand process. Marketing to a younger audience can seem risky at times, but finding an audience that truly values a product and price tag can be a big win for brands.

Final note: Appealing to Generation Z requires an understanding of their specific desires for all things natural, fresh and customized. Drive them to physical stores by reaching them online with tailored and relevant content that encourages them along their path to purchase. They may be young, but they know what they want, especially when it comes to their grocery needs.

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