Generation Alpha, currently ages 0-13, will swiftly and decisively alter the food and beverage landscape. They are set to number nearly 2 billion people globally by 2025 to become the largest generation in history. In the wake of their millennial parents’ health-conscious ethos, these budding influencers will meld their food preferences with their digital know-how that savvy marketers and operators will tap into.
As mere kids, Gen Alpha’s parents are first to come under their persuasive powers. Eighty-seven percent of millennial parents say their Gen Alpha kids influence their purchases, including in restaurants. These youngsters’ spending power is forecasted to grow three times faster than other generations by 2030.
Healthy and Balanced
Gen Alpha’s influence is reciprocal. Eighty percent of millennial parents surveyed by Datassential aim for a balanced diet and healthier food preferences for their children and prioritize food claims like high protein, organic, and gluten-free over low fat, low sodium, and high fiber. They also consider sustainable sourcing crucial, likely instilling these perspectives in their Gen Alpha children.
Healthy ideals aside, 37% of the parents’ kids say that McDonald’s is their child’s favorite restaurant. This demonstrates the need for operators to offer choices that impress both kids and parents.
Mac and cheese is a perennial kid favorite. Adding chicken-nugget protein to the carb dish could help strike the balance. Within the past year, Arby’s added Loaded Chicken Bacon Ranch Mac ‘N Cheese to the menu for a limited time. The dish featured white cheddar mac and cheese topped with chopped chicken nuggets, bacon, and Parmesan peppercorn ranch sauce.
Schools with lunch programs stay current with Gen Alpha’s eating habits combined with government nutrition requirements. According to a report by Chartwells K12, global cuisine featuring authentic dishes, ingredients, and flavors is a top food trend for kids in 2023.
Spicy and bold flavors captivate Gen Alpha. Chartwells serves up authentic Chinese flavors with their Sichuan-style Bang Bang Chicken as part of their new Global Eats school cafeteria program. Meanwhile sauces and salsas deliver bold flavor, including Chartwells Balsamic Blueberry Salsa, Argentinian-style Chimichurri, Mojo Barbecue Sauce and Orange Ginger Vinaigrette. The spicy ingredients that make global cuisines authentic provide a way to add flavor apart from salt. The USDA Food and Nutrition Service has proposed a gradual reduction of sodium in schools through 2029.
Gen Alphas were born for technology in a digital world. It’s all they’ve known. More than half of them have their own tablets, and they get their entertainment from streaming platforms, according to parents who took part in Morning Consult’s A Brand’s Guide to Gen Alpha Survey. Operators and marketers who can tap into that will get these youngsters’ attention.
Seventy-nine percent of millennial parents who participated in a YPulse survey say their children use social media. YouTube is the most used (45%) followed by Tik Tok (34%), according to a YPulse survey the company conducted for its Gen Alpha Spotlight Trend Report.
In early 2022, Denny’s launched a limited-time “Social Stars Influenced Menu,” featuring meals inspired and approved by popular, family-friendly TikTok creators from diverse fields like culinary, fashion, gaming, music, and comedy. According to Denny’s press release, “the Social Stars Influenced Menu delivers a creative twist on the craveable meals our loyal guests know and love, while further introducing our brand to the next generation of Denny’s fans.”
Operators who want to keep their brand fresh will tap into the tastes of Alpha Gens, speaking to them where they are—with their families and friends, in school, and online. It is important to know what this generation is looking to in terms of buying habits and that restaurants and food businesses begin catering to this group as well.
Content courtesy of Perdue Foodservice