By now, is there anything we don’t know about Generation Z? Born from 1996 through 2014, these 4- to 23-year-olds learn with their eyes and share appealing images via social media. They’re environmentally aware and socially conscious. Most embrace cultural diversity. More than any prior generation, they value a healthy lifestyle. They crave convenience as much as flavor—and are food-savvier than older people were at their age. And they want all of it now.
Smart snack and bakery manufacturers know that, when it comes to packaged foods that appeal to this demographic, they have to meet a lot of wide-ranging demands in a product.
This is not about to get any easier. By next year, Gen Z is estimated to make up 40 percent of all consumers to the tune of about $3 trillion. That’s a gargantuan market.
Gen Z was influenced by the preferences of millennials and Generation X when rapid advances in technology crafted it into a unique group. Now Gen Z will influence those who follow: Generation Alpha.
The youngest members of this group are now in preschool, so it’s way too early to know how Alphas as a demographic will change tomorrow’s society and buying habits. But Alphas’ millennial and older Gen Z parents are keenly influencing the market. So it makes sense to look at new products targeting the youngest Gen Zers, who are now in elementary school, to gauge how to at least partially gap the bridge to Alphas.
Kashi by Kids Mixed Berry and Chocolate Bites. These soft-baked, open-ended squares (think Nabisco’s Fig Newtons, but smaller) contain either a cocoa blend or “super fruits” like blueberries and açaí. The dough includes legumes and coconut flour. Each individual pouched serving contains 10 grams whole grains, 3 grams fiber, 2 grams protein, and 8 or 9 grams sugar. All ingredients are USDA organic and Non-GMO Project Verified, and the chocolate variety is made with fair trade cocoa. Both are peanut-free.
CLIF Bar Mojo Crunch Snack Clusters. This new line includes flavor varieties like Electro Almond Sea Salt, Honey Srirocka and Fingerpickin’ BBQ. The almond/sea salt is rich in organic ancient grains—wild rice, millet, quinoa, sorghum and brown rice—along with split yellow peas and organic chia seeds. Each serving delivers 4 grams protein, 3 grams dietary fiber and only 4 grams sugar. The company also has a CLIF Kids line of soft, chewy Zbars made with organic ingredients like rolled oats.
This Bar Saves Lives Kids. This new line from the This Saves Lives brand, founded by four Hollywood entertainers including actress/singer Kristen Bell. The company’s chief objective is to match each snack purchase with a donated packet of nutrient-rich peanut paste specifically made to treat malnutrition in developing nations. For young Gen Z customers, the bars are available in kid-appealing packaging and flavors like Chocolate Chip “Dino”mite (dinosaur motif), S’mores Blast (rocket ships) and Rockin’ Straw-beary (guitar-playing bears). To date, more than 11 million nutrition packets have assisted children suffering from malnutrition. (The company says consuming three of the packets daily for about eight weeks will transform a child from severely malnourished to completely healthy.)
As babies and toddlers, Generation Alpha isn’t any different than preceding generations. They’ve always put their mouths on everything. And as David Berkowitz wrote in AdAge, this universally shared trait might become a key distinguishing characteristic in an era of lightning-fast advances in tech. Think about it: Whereas Generation Z is obsessed with touchscreens, Alphas might be the first generation that can’t live without a tastescreen!