Meat the next generation of shoppers

It is no surprise with the current state of the economy, generations are responding differently. Twenty years ago, many Gen X (1980-1965) members were starting families. Their children were heavily impacted by the Great Recession and saw firsthand penny pinching and value shopping. Today they would fall into Gen Z (1997-2012) and the younger half of Millennials (1981-1996). These groups are now managing their own households and are faced with the decisions of how and where to spend their food dollars. It is no wonder marketers are continuously pivoting in efforts to keep shoppers loyal.

Supermarkets remain the primary shopping channel for meat and poultry; however, club stores and supercenters grew as a primary destination this past year, according to The Power of Meat 2022 study1. This is being driven by younger generations, with supercenters having a 21 percentage point gap between Gen Z and Boomer (1946-1964) shoppers1. Supermarket popularity is driven by Boomers, with a 25 percentage point gap in the Boomer versus Gen Z share1.

Additionally, Corbion conducted proprietary research in April of 2022 and found that 30% of consumers have switched outlets to purchase groceries in the past three months and of that, 64% of those consumers fall within the Millennial cohort2. Millennials—who often have young families–are more likely to switch channels, fueled by out-of-stock items and high prices2. “Younger generations—Millennials, Gen Z and Gen A (early to mid-2010s to the mid-2020s)–are the future,” says Megan Passman, global insights manager at Corbion. “But they are proving to be the least loyal to brands and to shopping channels, which makes it so critical that every experience they have with a product be a positive one.”

To date, Boomers are the highest-spending meat and poultry shoppers, followed by Gen X, according to The Power of Meat 2022 study.“Gen Z online meat buyers are most likely to order anything they buy in-store, online as well,” says Anne-Marie Roerink, president of 210 Analytics, San Antonio, Texas, and author of the 2022 Power of Meat study. “Only 38% of Boomers do so.”

The market saw greater out-of-stocks and less availability of different cuts and kinds of meat for much of 2021. This, along with economics, forced 72% of shoppers to make changes to their meat and poultry retail purchases1. For example, while 38% of the total population said they stock up when meat and poultry is on sale, this is more common with Boomers (49%) as compared to Gen Z (20%)1.

“Price per pound is important for all,” says Roerink. “However, around 60% of Gen X and Boomer shoppers selected price per pound among their top-three factors influencing purchase decision, only 40% of Gen Z and 52% of Millennials did so. To them, price is one of the factors in the decision set, but it does not have an overriding influence.”

While Gen Z is the youngest cohort of adults, they are driving attitude changes on sustainability and health priorities across the broader population. Nearly three-quarters (73%) of Gen Z believe their generation is more concerned about the environmental impact of food choices than other generations, followed closely by Millennials (71%), with whom they share many perspectives and purchasing behaviors, according to the International Food Information Council (IFIC), Washington, D.C. Compared with Baby Boomers, Gen Z is more likely to purchase products labeled as “small carbon footprint/carbon neutral.” This trend may have long-term implications for the mainstream meat and poultry sector.

Loyalty to brands also has long-term implications. Seven in ten consider familiarity to be important when purchasing a product; however, Boomers are much more likely to be influenced by product familiarity2.

Clean label and naturalness are growing product quality attributes among all consumers. The drivers of “natural” labels varies by demographic. Sixty-four percent of Boomers seek out “natural” foods because they want to avoid artificial ingredients, vs. 44% of Gen X,  41% of Millennials and 36% of Gen Z consumers3. For younger consumers, the health of the planet is a greater concern. Forty-five percent of Millennials seek out “natural” foods because they are believed to be better for the environment, vs. 25% of Boomers3.

In addition to marketing for generational preferences, formulating and innovating is a continuous process. It requires the utilization of insights and intentional product development to ensure the product headed to store shelves will appeal to the correct set of buyers. Corbion, as an ingredient solution and services provider, assists meat and poultry manufacturers with solving these challenges while ensuring product quality and safety. Corbion’s teams of application scientists, insight analysts, and technical experts work closely with customers to help them deliver a product consumers desire.

1=The Power of Meat 2022
2=Corbion Proprietary Survey 2022
3=Food & Health Survey, International Food Information Council, 2022