Three women holding notebooks smiling and talking as they walk down a hallway


MAY 2024

Gen Z is the consumer of the future, and they are unique in substantial ways.

Who is Gen Z? 

Gen Z currently covers a wide range of milestones growing up—64% have a license/permit, 60% are in school, and 25% are employed in the workforce.*

Middle Schoolers

  • Some, but limited influence over food and beverage choices, as parent(s)/family largely dictate availability
  • Heavily engaged in day-to-day activities like video games, reading, TV, and art
  • Media preferences are distinct from older counterparts, with greater use of YouTube in particular
  • More motivated by trends relative to older peers, and less eco-conscious

High Schoolers

  • Greater, but still limited, influence over food and beverage choices—slightly more autonomy is available to drivers
  • Time is more constrained than in middle school for “fun” activities
  • Emerging interest in health & wellness, as well as trendiness and premium-purchases

a photograph of three kids sitting on the ground around an open pizza box
Pie chart showing where Gen Z lives, broken down as follows: Other (2%), Off Campus (2%), Dormitory (5%), On their own (13%), and With their family (78%).

College Students - At Home & Away from Home

  • Has newfound responsibility for food and beverage choices, especially those now living away from home
  • High degree of autonomy in managing their own time and activities, though time is limited to pursue “fun” activities
  • Increasingly driven to further health and wellness goals—mental health is top-of-mind 
  • Looks to Instagram for new products

Full-time Employees (Working 30+ Hours/Week)

  • Often live on their own, though many still do live under the roofs of their parents or other family
  • Greater financial freedom affords great responsibility for food and beverage choices
  • Cooks and visits restaurants at highest rate
  • Most driven to further health and wellness goals 

What matters to them

This generation has grown up to celebrate individuality, financial independence, and mental health. While highly skeptical, they also believe in creating positive change in the world and are often influenced by diverse cultures.

Infographic showing categories that Gen Z care about: Life online, responsibility, entrepreneurs, financial savviness, celebrating differences, customization, novelty, mental health, forming trust, and activism.

Purchasing power

Beverages play a large role in purchase habits. While middle schoolers gravitate towards soda, chips and sweets, older groups go to healthier options that satisfy. 

Infographic showing Gen Z’s top drinks (20% soft drinks, 13% coffee, 11% energy, and 9% sports). This graphic also shows a bar chart reflecting how likely Gen Z is to purchase a beverage at a restaurant with their own money, as follows: middle school (66%), high school without a license (71%), high school with a license (68%), college at home (74%), college away (72%), and working 30+ hours (79%).


1. Pushing boundaries

Gen Z is pushing boundaries in social, economic, and personal fronts—socializing remotely, spending intentionally and prioritizing mental health.

2. Searching for authenticity

They’re hungry for information and have more access than any generation before—meaning authenticity is important and good marketing must walk the walk.

3. Influencing family purchasing

60% of Gen Z says they influence most of the food and beverages purchased in their homes.

4. Thinking differently

Their discretionary money is mostly spent on food and beverages, for which they evaluate their needs and occasions differently (ex: soda is celebratory). ■

*47% of 30+ hr. workers live on their own (this jumps only slightly to 51% for 40+ hrs.) 49% live of 30+ hr. workers live with their parents or other family (dropping only to 44% for 40+ hrs.) 


Discover more through the lens in the articles below.