Generation Z – consumers born between 1997 and 2005 – are already a sizable customer base for bakers to tap into. So who are they, how do they live their lives, and what opportunities and challenges do they present within the bakery space? Discover our insights into the next generation of bakery shopper:

Using social media and technology(1)

Having grown up in a world with the internet, laptops, smart phones and social media, it’s no surprise that digital technology is part of Generation Z’s everyday – making them a digital savvy consumer. As a result, they are more likely to embrace technology for learning, shopping and entertainment and play than any other generation.

Gen Z’s rank social media as their #1 social outlet and are more likely to use visual social media platforms, such as TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. Almost two in three think social media connects consumers and businesses, while more than half (51%) want brands to be active online and offer an online experience. Gen Z’s are also more likely to get flavour inspiration from social media (44%) and a further half, follow food trends on social media. All of the above highlights how important it is for bakers to engage with Gen Z’s online. From getting creative by tapping into the latest trends and highlighting unusual cakes and bakes on sale in-store, to showcasing skills and promotional offers – there are plenty of ways for bakers to use social media to communicate with this audience.

Food and flavours(2)

When it comes to food, Generation Z are less likely to cook meals from scratch and more likely to use convenience foods than older consumers. In addition to convenience, taste is also a big driver with them choosing taste over how a product is made or how good it is for you.

While taste is a primary driver for all generations – Gen Z’s are more experimental with it than any other, with 36% claiming it has become more important to them over the past 12 months. Drilling down into the detail, ‘familiar flavours’ is the flavour which most influences this age group’s food and beverage choices (41%), followed by comforting (33%) and traditional / nostalgic (29%). Brown flavours (chocolate and caramel etc), tropical fruits, berries and summer fruits, and coffee are also popular. A further one in five (20%) Gen Z’s consider products that deliver new taste experiences and products with new / exotic / exclusive tastes are worth paying more for. This generation is also more likely to experiment with flavour in sweet foods including desserts (32%), sweet bakery (29%) and chocolate confectionery (27%), representing another sales opportunity for bakers.

With all this in mind, bakers looking to appeal to this audience can do so by offering a variety of flavours including familiar and comforting, nostalgic and unusual foods, that can be enjoyed in-store, at home or on-the-go.

Health, wellbeing and the environment(3)

Another opportunity for bakers to capture the attention of Gen Z’s is through their interest in their health, wellbeing and the environment. These conscientious shoppers are more likely to practice everyday actions to live more environmentally friendly lives than millennials, and are actively seeking out fresh and natural products with additional values, such as environmental and ethical messages. Nearly one in four (38%) are say healthier / better for you flavours influence how they purchase food and drinks. Following a plant-based diet is also more of a focus for Generation Z’s than older consumers. At Bakels, we work with our bakery customers to deliver added benefits, and elevate bakery products beyond enjoyment. This includes a range of breads with health benefits, like Multiseed, sourdough and rye; bread produced with flour from ancient grains; as well as bread suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

Looking ahead: what will Gen Z’s be looking to spend their money on in the future(3)

When considering future spending, Gen Z will prioritise health, as well as fashion, education, hobbies and excitement. Almost half of Gen Z anticipate spending more on food and beverage in the next year – with previous research suggesting this age group is more likely to see increased food spend to boost emotional wellbeing rather than simply a response to price inflation. In line with this, Generation Z are more likely to treat themselves in the coming year, over-indexing in virtually all areas of treating. Therefore, providing in-store seating for Gen Z’s looking for a comfortable social experience they can enjoy with friends and family is key.

Whatever happens next with the digital generation, one thing is for sure. Bakels will continue to be there, monitoring consumer trends and using our insights to create new ingredients to help bakers across the world give successive generations of consumers the products they want, and keep them coming back for more, just as we have done since 1904.

Data: (1) Innova Trends Survey / Innova Lifestyle and Attitudes survey 2023. (2) Innova Flavour study 2022. (3) Innova Market Insights 2023