At the IFT 2018 expo in Chicago last week, global market research firm Mintel presented new findings on the post-Millennial ‘Gen Z’ demographic and what beverage flavors to look out for.
Defining a generation
Members of Gen Z were born between 1995-2007, making them today’s young adults, teens and tweens [ages 10-12]. Their twenty and thirty-something Millennial predecessors were born from 1981-1994.
According to Mintel, Gen Z is made up of the most diverse generation to date and is the world’s first group of true digital natives. Their tech-savvy connectedness makes them more worldly than past generations, constantly on top of trends across all industries and forming new ones through the use of the internet and social media platforms.
The digital revolution has changed the way brands market their products to young people, making it clear that having a strong digital presence and brand identity is key to survival.
Mintel reports that 61% of parents with kids aged 12-17 say their kids ask for grocery items by brand name, and 54% of the same parents agreed that they give their kids more of a say in grocery items than their parents gave them.
Current teens and tweens are much closer with their families and involved in family decisions than generations past. In fact, 84% of kids aged 10-17 believe that they have a closer relationship with their parents than most kids.
In terms of purchasing behavior, many kids aged 12-17 agreed that their families make decisions together regarding dinner (41%), lunch (37%), breakfast (35%), snacks (32%) and beverages (30%). Parents deciding alone on the same categories fell at less than 20%.
What Gen Z responds to
Still, parents have a strong influence on the diet of Gen Z teens. With a pronounced ‘health and wellness’ revolution taking hold of the food and beverage industries, teens and their parents are both more concerned about sugar content in juices and soft drinks.
Parents are more likely to veto their child’s food or drink choice based on sugar content, ahead of artificial ingredients, price and calories.
According to Mintel, this could mean that members of Gen Z are more open to new ‘better-for-you’ beverages like low-calorie sports drinks and cold brew coffee made with oat milk.
Mintel also reports that this mindset could have an impact on Gen Z’s relationship with alcohol, making it a less-likely vice of choice for teen rebellion. They cited data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse that shows a decline in the use of alcohol and tobacco from today’s teens.
More launches of non-alcoholic beers and wines, including a recent rise in cannabis-infused beverages, may divert Gen Z away traditional alcohol consumption patterns as they age into their twenties.
Citrus flavors are poised for growth within the beverage industry, particularly ones that offer a new twist on traditional orange. Infusing plain orange juice and lemonade with unique flavors like pineapple and raspberry are effective with consumers, according to Mintel.
There has also been an increase in drink launches flavored with blood orange, orange blossom and spice and herbs like lemongrass and cardamom in both alcoholic and non-alcoholic categories.
Similar flavors are propelling the ‘pink drink’ trend that’s dominating social media. While pink is not necessarily a flavor, analysts at Mintel have identified it as an encompassing umbrella term for several beverages.
These drinks are flavored with berries, beets and other ingredients that provide natural red and pink hues. Pink lemonade, beetroot lattes, hibiscus teas and more have all played into the visual component of social media trends and ‘eating with your eyes.’
Consumers are also bringing the idea of permissible indulgence beyond desserts and into beverages. Products with low sugar content and ‘better-for-you’ ingredients that still satisfy a sweet tooth with indulgent flavors are a big hit with young people who expect more out of their food and drink options.