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Marketing to Gen Z successfully will pay off in many ways

Generation Z is unlike any previous generation, as generations tend to be, so marketing fresh produce to them is also different.

Gen Z, generally regarded as those born from about 1996 to 2012, are age 7 to 23, so they haven’t come into their own with buying power, but their influence is already massive, says Pamela Naumes, VP of digital transformation for Bolthouse Farms BB #:111358.

“They vote with dollars,” she said. “Many live and breathe on social media.”

The Produce Marketing Association’s BB #:153708 town hall Oct. 13 addressed how to market to this generation.

Siobhan May, director of communications and public relations for PMA, says that Gen Z is starting to spend their own money on food, and they have strong influence on their household’s spending, outside their own buying power.

While this generation is more digitally connected than any previous one, they also take an interest in consumer brands, their stories, and what they stand for.

“They want brands to talk with them not to them,” says Elena Ozeriskaya, founder and managing director for Fresh Insight. “They want to be part of your brand.”

Shay Myers, CEO, Owyhee Produce BB #:192696 is active on social media, explaining both his company’s goals and experiences, but also the produce industry’s in general.

He says Gen Z is drawn to a brand’s personality, so produce companies need to be strategic in who they designate for that job.

Myers says that brands often don’t designate their CEO for this assignment but should choose someone who is stable at a company and knowledgeable. It can even by more than one person.

“They want to engage with your brand’s personality,” he says. “They gravitate to us because they want to know where their food comes from [and] we’re authentic and have some expertise.”

Myers says Owyhee records videos all the time and never knows which will connect meaningfully with consumers.

That said, there are four mistakes many companies make when trying to engage with consumers, especially Gen Z.

  1. No personality. People follow people not companies
  2. Not being honest. Companies and people are not perfect, but they have to be real.
  3. Lack of purpose. It’s important to tell consumers that produce companies care about more than just making a profit.
  4. Lack of content. Get your story out there. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it has to be authentic.

Naumes says as consumers shift and evolve, produce brands must do the same and continue to engage in a way that isn’t boring.

Ozeriskaya says learning how to market to Gen Z will pay off with marketing to older generations. Social and digital communication is only increasing.

“Going forward, we’re not going to get less connected,” she says. “There’s no going back.”

Greg Johnson is Director of Media Development for Blue Book Services and has two Gen Z members of his household.