Each generation dictates the characteristics that help define their particular group. In fact, one research organization has bestowed the nickname “True Gen” onto Gen Z, due to their passion for authenticity.(1)
Gen Z consumers also have a passion for food and they’ve been dubbed “unintentional foodies” in a NPD Group report. That’s because these new consumers are raised in a culture that discusses, celebrates and elevates food of all kinds from all cultures. And although they might be open to eating experiences that blend different ethnic specialties and spices, Gen Z’s passion for authenticity makes them prefer transparent labeling and simple, natural ingredients in foods and beverages.
Unlike any previous generation before them, Gen Z consumers are digital natives(3) and have grown up with a wealth of access to technology and information sharing. These consumers routinely use tools to research companies and brands and they’re curious to determine a company’s level of transparency throughout the food chain. Moreover, these consumers also share their findings with their friends through online platforms.
For the record, these important Gen Z consumers represent an estimated 27% of the population and already are exerting their spending power. Marketers must follow their lead—rather than expect Gen Z shoppers to blindly follow their brands.(2)
Take Action: What Processors Can Do
Following a Gen Z consumer means formulators must strive for transparent labeling and use authentic, natural ingredients. Communicating this focus on “natural” can help capture the attention of the younger demographic and help convey a brand identity that aligns with “True Gen” values.
One way that manufacturers, retailers and foodservice operations can communicate the quality and nature of their ingredients—beyond the Nutrition Facts Label—involves call-outs on packages and menus. Package call-outs and menu symbols help busy consumers identify the qualities and characteristics they’re seeking from foods and beverages, whether that product is gluten free, packed with protein or low in sugar.
The American Egg Board recently introduced its Made with REAL Eggs® certification seal to help manufacturers and restaurateurs communicate their commitment to the use of real eggs in food and beverage offerings. More information about program parameters and details about signing up for the program can be found at www.aeb.org/made-with-real-eggs.
Proprietary research conducted for the American Egg Board by Datassential reveals that the Made with REAL Eggs® seal improves consumer perception of quality for both retail stores and foodservice segments. In addition to conferring quality, the Made with REAL Eggs® seal exhibits customer care, promises a good-tasting product and makes consumers more likely to purchase the item again.
For any age consumer, the Datassential research shows that the Made with REAL Eggs® seal helps boost perceptions of fast-food restaurants. They agreed with the statement that the seal means the establishment “cares about their customers.” And it makes the consumer more likely to visit again.
Field experience helps prove the data.
“Highlighting the Made with REAL Eggs seal as featured on our distinctive slider sandwiches is an authentic way to share with our customers what we’ve known all along—that when it comes to serving up hot and tasty real eggs, there’s really no substitute,” says Lynn Blashford, White Castle’s chief marketing officer.
The benefits of Made with REAL Eggs® seals are not channel exclusive, however. In foodservice, eggs are typically purchased at restaurants, but those who buy eggs from non-restaurant channels do so frequently. Non-restaurant channels include coffee shops, c-stores and cafeterias. Ninety-one percent of Millennial egg consumers purchase eggs and egg-based products from retail locations.
To better capture consumer attention, the Made with REAL Eggs® seal can be displayed on menus, food wrappers, product displays or even near cash registers. According to the research, the most impactful area to place the Made with REAL Eggs® seal for foodservice is a menu board. Another display beneficial to c-stores and other retail outlets that offer quick-serve, grab-and-go snacks, sandwiches and salads is on the wrapper or package.
Package wrappers in particular offer the greatest impact for impulse shoppers, such as Gen Z. One survey that focused on the dining habits of college students (a heavily populated portion of Gen Z) found only 5% of respondents plan in advance what they’re going to eat when they go in search of food.
Despite this impulsivity, organizations have to plan ahead with ingredients they will order to stock store shelves and foodservice kitchens. Often, they turn to reliable, versatile ingredients like eggs, which can be used in any daypart and in multiple ways; or that enable the organization to offer personalized dishes. Personalization can help marketers reach consumers in Gen Z and other generations as well.
Looking at prepared food manufacturing, it’s clear that egg versatility is matched only by its functionality. Eggs supply the foundation for many of the comfort foods consumers crave at retail and at foodservice off-premise dining.
While an egg is viewed as a simple ingredient, its various forms—including whole eggs, egg whites and egg yolks—offer more than 20 functional benefits. These include aeration, binding, coagulation, emulsification, whipping and more. These properties (acting alone or in synergy with each other and other ingredients), aid with product texture, mouthfeel, appearance, and of course, flavor.
No matter how individualistic the generation, a flexible, versatile ingredient that is familiar to and seen in the pantries of 94% of the U.S. population overall, is sure to help spark sales. Real eggs and real egg products can do that. Moreover, real eggs help manufacturers, retailers, restaurants and institutions appeal to both younger and older consumers.
Elisa Maloberti is director of egg product marketing at the American Egg Board. Home of The Incredible Egg, the AEB is the U.S. egg industry’s national commodity marketing board. The AEB’s mission is to increase demand for eggs and egg products through research, education and promotion. The AEB’s Egg Nutrition Center is the country’s largest repository of egg nutrition research. The AEB is located in Chicago, Ill. For more, visit www.aeb.org.