5 Ways Gen Z are Defining Wellness, and Why Retail Should Care
While our lawmakers battle over the best way to make health care affordable, Generation Z is creating its own way, and it could sharply alter how people perceive healthcare in future years. From our The Big Business of Well report, we dig into the five findings of this Next Big Demographic.
Apologies to the Millennial generation, but when it comes to wellness, it looks like 16 may be the new 30.
Age 16 is roughly the mid-point of Gen Z, which is leading a revolution in healthcare that will affect food, beverages, vitamins and medical services. As this group joins the buying and voting nation (their ages run 7 to 23), both retail brands and lawmakers should pay it respect.
This generation, more than any before it, literally cut its teeth on healthy living. Their parents – as they learned the hazards of food preservatives and pesticides, of empty calories in fruit juices, the power of digestion and the necessity of fitness – passed it down by the spoonful.
Generation Z didn't always listen – its members are stereotyped to be more screen proficient than physically fit – but as they become adults, these innate teachings are surfacing in their buying behaviors.
Spending More on Well: 5 Findings
Natural foods, exercise trackers and “honest” beauty products have always been staple categories to members of Gen Z. This was made evident in our most recent How America Shops® research, detailed in our report The Big Business of Well.
Among this age group’s preferences and influences:
- They are upping the commitment. Gen Z consumers are on track to outspend their cohorts on wellness products – 45% told us they spend more to stay well today than a year ago. That compares with 35% of the total population and 40% of Millennials.
- They trust themselves (and devices) for care. This generation believes: “I know my body better than doctors do.” Until Gen Zers begin to age (say, 30 years), they will likely rely less on physicians than on personalized trackers and web advisers. Nearly 30% use health or fitness apps, compared with 17% of combined generations, and 53% have virtual health buddies.
- They also trust “new-age” professionals. Thanks to Instagram, the credibility and reach of digital influencers has extended to nutritionists, massage therapist, and fitness trainers. Healthcare doesn’t even cover their services (yet), but 42% of Gen Z trust nutritionists (compared with 30% of all demographics) and 31% trust personal trainers (vs. 20% of all).
- They like multi-purpose nutrition. Gen Z wants more from food, evidenced in its preference for vitamin waters, protein-enriched snack bars, and probiotic everything. More than half – 51% – believe sugar is an obstacle to a healthy life, and 39% eat protein or fiber bars, compared with 29% of other age groups combined.
- Cannabis could be the new fiber. CBD, the non-psychoactive chemical in hemp, is infusing coffee beverages, skin creams, beer and snacks at a rapid pace. Sales are projected to reach $450 billion by 2020. Since it is considered a natural alternative to pain relievers like aspirin, CBD should click with Gen Z. We’ll see next year.
Here’s Your Opportunity
Here’s one last, but important, statistic for brands and retailers: While 80% of Gen Z members believe they know how to live a healthy life, that figure is below their older counterparts. This spells opportunity.
Brands and retailers do not have to sell wellness to members of Gen Z; it’s already a lifestyle they are defining with every purchase decision. True, they may not always follow the rules to be well, but they do know the rules. The trick is being there when they’re ready.