Members of Generation Z — those born between 1995 and 2010 — are the most willing to try foods produced using technology, according to a study from Ketchum, a New York-based communication firm. Of that demographic, 77% were more likely to eat such foods, while 67% of millennials, 58% of Gen Xers and 58% of baby boomers said they were willing to do so.
The findings from Ketchum's 2019 Food Tech Consumer Perception Study noted 71% of Gen Z respondents were generally comfortable with food tech, compared with 56% of millennials, 51% of Gen Xers and 58% of baby boomers.
The research also found manufacturers should introduce food tech to consumers using both scientifically supported information and emotion to maximize buy-in before products arrive in the marketplace. The company used its unfiltered biometric methodology, which measures physical responses, to test food tech videos on consumers. Then then followed up with interviews to gauge content usefulness.
The results of this study could be significant for the food tech industry because Gen Z is becoming an increasingly influential demographic. It's projected to be the largest and most ethnically diverse generation, so food tech developers and food and beverage manufacturers need to consider how to appeal to them.
Potential sales to this audience may be considerable. Gen Z group, which Nielsen reports comprises 26% of the population, represents between $29 billion and $143 billion in direct spending, according to Forbes. So Gen Zers represent a golden opportunity for wide acceptance of genetically modified ingredients, gene editing techniques such as CRISPR, and those fermented in labs or grown from animal cells.
But Gen Z isn't the only influential group in this space. Millennials — born between 1981 and 1996 — have been a group industry has tried to sway for years. Almost three out of 10 millennials are what Ketchum calls Food eVangelists, meaning they are influencers among their communities and on social media who have an impact on how food is raised, packaged and sold. Almost the same proportion of Gen Zers fit this profile — 27%. But only 15% of Gen Xers and 8% of baby boomers are in this category.
But generational differences aside, one finding is key: A majority of consumers in all demographics included in this study are comfortable with food tech and willing to try its products.
For the food tech startups out there, these findings could be useful, helping them appeal to sustainability concerns and other factors driving purchases and brand loyalty. Whether the overarching issue is the impact of climate change on the environment — or more specific issues such as animal welfare or food waste — focusing on how food tech may be able to address it will be key to gaining trust, and therefore attracting business.