Keeping Gen Z satisfied can help lift that flat consumption rate and ensure that a new generation remains a strong base for future growth. So what exactly makes this age cohort different and why does it matter in the produce sector?
First, Gen Z consumers are foodies who are interested in trying new things and sharing their excitement about what they eat on social media and in person. While they are interested in experimenting with different flavors, often from many parts of the globe, they are also in tune with and proud of their own culture and heritage. The produce department offers a veritable world of offerings that can be used in both favorite family dishes and exciting new applications.
In addition, when thinking about Gen Z, one must recognize the priority that most of these consumers place on authenticity. Their notion of authenticity extends to the way foods are produced, packaged, available for purchase and ultimately disposed.
The retail produce department, in particular, resonates on authenticity when stories are shared on how fruits, vegetables and other plant-based products are grown and handled throughout the supply chain. These younger shoppers want the details that support authenticity and they increasingly seek some kind of validation, whether that’s in the form of certification or streaming video from a farmer in the field.
Gen Zers’ interest in authenticity extends to responsibility. They seek out brands and stores that align with their values, including environmental issues, and want to know more about cutting food waste, supporting regenerative agriculture and taking care of the land and its resources. Here’s a bonus: When they are in sync with a company’s philosophies and morals, they are very loyal.
Holistic health is another priority for Gen Z consumers as it is for other generations. Especially following the COVID-19 pandemic, these young shoppers have an enhanced sense of the importance of food in wellness and potential protection from certain illnesses and diseases. Moreover, they are quite mindful of mental health and life balance and seek out foods and beverages that nourish their body and mind.
This is a curious consumer base, too. Helping GenZ understand how they can use fruits and vegetables is important in attracting and retaining them as shoppers. Creating digital recipes with buildable shopping lists is one way to inspire this audience. QR codes at the point of sale in-store or online that link back to selection tips — “How do I know if an avocado is ripe?” or “What is a jackfruit?” — can be quite valuable as well.
Of course, since these are tech-savvy consumers who got their first iPods and smartphones as teenagers and grew up with video games and computers, technology is crucial in reaching them with produce suggestions and usage ideas. Whether it’s a retailer’s TikTok video on a hunt for hatch chile peppers or a grower’s Instagram post showing the perfect fall apple hanging from a sun-dappled branch, social media platforms can be a direct conduit to sales.
In the e-commerce channel, younger adult shoppers expect more out of online shopping than small or grainy photos and brief descriptions: engage them with embedded recipe videos and offer suggestions like other successful sites do. Although fresh produce currently comprises less than 10 percent of e-commerce orders, if you do well in this channel, it brings a halo effect to your brick-and-mortar store where the produce department — and produce sales — are more predominant.
Finally, have some fun when communicating with Gen Z. They may be serious about things like quality, price, shared values and the eating experience, but they like to have a good time and appreciate good things — including good produce.