Inflation, E-Commerce and the Impact of Gen Z on Shopper Behavior: Webinar Key Takeaways

August 10, 2022

By Jim Dudlicek / NGA Director, Communications and External Affairs

Who buys what, and why?

The answer seems to constantly change, but the results of the International Food Information Council’s 2022 Food & Health Survey can help you find the sales strategy that’s right for your unique operation.

NGA hosted a recent webinar that explored the consumer reactions and attitudes about the increasing prices at the grocery store, the impact of e-commerce, and how Generation Z is altering traditional ways of doing business.

Presenting the survey results was Ali Webster, Ph.D., RD, director of research and nutrition communications at the International Food Information Council.

Here are some key takeaways from the presentation:

Older and younger generations are taking different approaches to managing higher costs of food. Baby Boomers are much more likely to have observed an increase in cost, followed by Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z. To manage costs, consumer shopping patterns are shifting, from purchasing less overall to purchasing fewer fresh foods to using coupons. Gen Z and Millennials are more likely than Baby Boomers to have purchased fewer fresh fruits and vegetables than they otherwise would have, changed the stores they shop at; or bought more products online.

Taste and price continue to be most influential on food purchasing decisions. Although it still ranks below other purchase drivers, four in 10 say environmental sustainability has an impact on their decision to buy certain foods and beverages. Nearly 6 in 10 are concerned about food waste; younger consumers care even more.

The popularity of e-commerce presents an opportunity to customize product messaging and labeling. 25% now buy groceries online weekly, up from 20% in 2021 and 11% in 2020. Younger generations, parents, those earning >$75K/year and men are more likely to shop online at least once a week. Of those who shop online, 71% find it “very” or “somewhat” easy to locate nutrition information when buying food online. There are more consumers who say they at least sometimes pay attention to labels now vs. 2021.

Gen Z is invested in holistic nutrition and health, with preferences and behaviors drastically different from older generations. Nearly three-fourths of Gen Z’ers followed a diet/eating pattern in the past year. Improved sleep and emotional/mental health benefits from foods are highly sought by Gen Z. Clean eating, mindful eating, calorie-counting and plant-based eating represent the most common diets/eating patterns.

Preference for products labeled as “natural” and “clean” has increased in 2022. There are also more consumers looking for products labeled as having a small carbon footprint, for both in-person and online shopping. “Natural,” “clean” and “organic” labels resonate most with Gen Z. Half of Gen Z believes their food choices have an impact on the environment. However, Millennial perceptions of environmental impacts of food choices far outpace Gen Z.

More than half of Gen Z’ers snack at least twice a day. Hunger/thirst, boredom and needing energy are top reasons for snacking.

Click here to watch a recording of this webinar.