Generation Z consumers are more concerned about the sustainability credentials of food and beverage products than Boomers, and find vegetarian and vegan products more appealing, new research shows.

PR company Ingredient Communications surveyed 1,000 adults in the US and UK. A third of those aged 18-25 (34 percent) said they consider it ‘very important’ that a product is made sustainably, compared with 18 percent of those aged 65 and over.

Meanwhile, 38 percent of 18 to 24-year-olds said they find vegetarian claims on products to be ‘very appealing’ and 33 percent said they feel the same way about vegan claims. However, only 6 percent of respondents aged 65+ said they find vegetarian claims ‘very appealing’ and just 3 percent said the same about vegan claims.

It’s not only on environmental and ethical issues that the two generations differ. The youngest consumers are much more price sensitive. In the survey, 29 percent respondents aged 18-24 said it is ‘very important’ that a product is the cheapest available, while only 3 percent of people aged 65+ agreed. However, consumers aged 18-24 are much more willing to pay extra for a product that is made entirely with ingredients they recognize, with 67 percent saying they’d do so. By contrast, only 27 percent of those aged 65+ would pay more.

Richard Clarke, managing director of Ingredient Communications, said: “It’s no surprise that younger and older consumers see the world differently. But this survey sheds light on how their views diverge in the food & beverage sector. These insights highlight the importance of aligning product development and marketing with the worldview of your target consumer demographic. While there will be common ground between generations, the areas of disagreement can be quite striking—and this means a one-size-fits-all approach is risky.”

The research, conducted by SurveyGoo in September 2020, also found that the youngest shoppers have the strongest feelings against GMO ingredients. Two in five (39 percent) said that a GMO-free product is likely to be ‘very healthy,’ compared with just 14 percent of over 65s.

In addition, while nearly four in ten (38 percent) of 18 to 24-year-olds believe that label claim ‘gluten-free’ is a sign that a product is ‘very healthy,’ only 6 percent of Boomers hold this view. Accordingly, 31 percent of 18-24s said they find a gluten-free claim on a product to be ‘very appealing’ compared with 8 percent of over-65s.