How Gen Z and TikTok Are Shaping Food Trends

New research finds young consumers believe they are what they eat
Emily Crowe, Progressive Grocer
More than half of all Gen Z respondents believe what they eat is indicative of who they are as a person.

Members of Gen Z are more apt than ever to consider themselves “foodies” who want to discover new recipes and find inspiration to become at-home chefs through social media, according to a new report from Cassandra, an insights and strategy group within ENGINE Group. These consumers also tie what they eat directly to their identity and tend to factor in morality, nutrition and impact on mental health when making food choices.

The report is a cross-section of more than 1,500 U.S. and U.K. consumers between the ages of 14 and 34. More than half of all Gen Z respondents believe what they eat is indicative of who they are as a person, and 47% of respondents said that in the next few years, they will prioritize more mental health-focused eating.

Further, 53% of Gen Z respondents said they find inspiration for new food through TikTok, and those consumers are adventurous eaters who seek out unique culinary experiences. 

"Gen Z is truly leaving its mark on everything it touches – and the food industry is no exception," said Kathy Sheehan, SVP at Cassandra. "Gen Z is changing the face of the industry, putting a greater emphasis on a holistic approach to food and using it as a way to express themselves.

“As a result, the industry is growing and Gen Z has become its coveted, but elusive audience,” Sheehan continued. “A question still lingers: Where can Gen Z be reached and it is looking more and more likely that they are turning to social media, TikTok in particular, to explore this newfound love for food."

The research notes the rise of food influencers on TikTok, as well as brands introducing product lines based directly on movements spurred by the app.

“Due to the pandemic, Gen Z has become self-taught at-home chefs, thanks to the help of social media,” the research found. “This trend doesn't appear to be slowing down anytime soon as Gen Z has found a new way to be authentically themselves and brands and marketers should be taking note."

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