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Foodservice

What’s Gen Z Sipping On?

A closer look at this influential demographic
Photograph: Shutterstock

Gen Z represents about 11% of the total population, and about 14% of the population that’s over 18 years old, according to Technomic’s 2018 Generational report. While they’re not the largest generation to speak of—that’s baby boomers, followed by millennials—their buying power is strong. 

And looking at the coolers in any grocery store, fast-casual restaurant or convenience store, it’s easy to see that operators are already offering products targeted to different consumers. Unsweetened iced tea, for instance, probably isn’t going to be popular with younger Gen Zers the way that it might be with Gen X. Similarly, flavored milks, such as strawberry or cookies-n-cream flavored beverages, probably don’t draw in too many baby boomers. Thus, when marketing to younger consumers, it’s important for c-store retailers to make sure they’re offering the right stuff. Knowing what Gen Z is interested in is crucial—here’s a crash course in what Gen Z wants.

Busy lifestyles can mean more c-store visits

Technomic’s Generational report finds that Gen Z are some of the most-frequent c-store shoppers; 65% say they purchase food or beverages from c-stores at least once a month. Only millennials outpace them, and only slightly. Additionally, Gen Z is a busy group—nearly half (44%) say that they would like to eat food cooked at home more often, but they just don’t have the time. Knowing these two things, c-store retailers can attract younger consumers who are busy and looking for something quick and convenient to eat (and drink).

Hot trends, cool drinks

As for what they like to drink, it’s important to keep in mind that Gen Z has limited disposable income, as many are just starting out in their careers or are only working part-time, so budget-friendly beverages are key. Beverages with a jolt are important, too. According to Technomic’s 2018 Generational report, cold or iced coffee is Gen Z’s most-frequently purchased drink; 56% of Gen Z say they have purchased it from a foodservice location in the last month (and that number is higher among younger Gen Z, ages 18- to 21-years old). Following cold coffee is hot coffee, which 54% say they’ve bought.

Smoothies and sports drinks are also popular, with 48% and 47% of Gen Z saying they’ve purchased them, respectively. And, trailing that are regular soft drinks (45%) and energy drinks (44%).

Gen Z can be enticed to purchase drinks with unique flavors—Technomic’s Generational report finds that Gen Z traffic drivers include unique craveable items they can’t make at home. With that in mind, it may be beneficial for retailers to offer unique flavors for their iced and hot coffee—familiar flavors such as vanilla or caramel, as well as new and interesting options, such as maple during fall or marshmallow during winter.

By offering both bottled and fresh versions of Gen Z’s favorite drinks, c-store retailers can capture young consumer dollars easily—especially with flavored coffees, both hot and cold/iced.

This post is sponsored by FETCO

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