Gen Z: Gen Z talks health but eats snacks for meals

Want to look like a ‘snacc’ but end up binging on snacks – the struggle is real for Gen Z.

Teenagers and 20-somethings have emerged as the largest consumer base that is ‘snackifyng’ breakfast, by either replacing the meal with a snack or having it as an accompaniment. Contrary to what most organisations understand about this generation, research by market intelligence agency Mintel shows there’s a gap between intent and action that is driving trends like binging on snacks.
While Gen Z has an intent to eat ‘healthy’, they end up indulging on snacks, the research shows. The frequency of consumption among this cohort is also the largest among all generations.

“While they intend to snack healthily, their consumption tells a different story. They snack out of emotions and boredom, and familiar indulgences act as stress relievers and mood boosters. Therefore, indulgence in snacking will remain pivotal, especially for Gen Zs,” Tulsi Joshi, senior food and drink analyst, Mintel Reports India, said.
This trend augurs well for the snacking sector, and companies are making changes to cater to this generation. “The Indian snacking sector is expected to grow at over 7% between 2022-26. Our research shows that Gen Z consumers would be the main drivers of this growth,” Joshi said.
Gits, a 60-year-old brand, had limited engagement with Gen Z consumers initially. But now its ‘ready-to-eat’ lineup has boosted its reach within this segment. “As you move towards a younger generation, culinary skills are diminishing. Hence, ready-to-eat options are preferred over the ready-to-cook ones. Brands now prioritise ‘better for you’ recipes that balance taste and health, departing from the tasteless ‘healthy’ trade-off,” said Sahil Gilani, director (sales & marketing), Gits Food Products.
“As Gen Z enters the workforce and leads busy lifestyles, they will look for time-saving, convenient snacks that can keep them fuller for longer,” Joshi added.

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Workplace challenges
On the flip-side, dealing with Gen Z may not be a cakewalk for employers. In cognitive behaviour therapy, an intent-action gap is known as ‘low frustration tolerance’, industry experts say.
“Gen Z struggles to control their urges and spontaneity. They find it hard to tolerate the frustration of choosing a long-term goal over a short-term one. It might be probably ‘adulting’ in their terms. That’s the same reason why even though they intend to reduce their phone or internet use, or gaming, they are unable to do so as they can’t stand the discomfort,” said Hamsaz Wadhwani, founder & CEO of HR firm The 7th Fold.
An employee well-being survey by The 7th Fold also points to a higher share of Gen Z that binge-eats as compared to Gen X and Gen Y (millennials).
The survey showed that emotional and physical well-being is the lowest in Gen Z. This cohort reported the maximum stress, anxiety, tiredness among all generations. They also exhibited a greater extent of emotions such as anger, leading to depression and burnout. As a result, 67% of Gen Z reported binge-watching video content to deal with stress, leading to poor concentration on work tasks (33% of Gen Z versus 7% in Gen X and Gen Y).
How should workplaces ensure that Gen Z remains engaged? “Gen Z could be a lot more productive if they are able to manage their frustrations better. Organisations that have a large employee base of Gen Zers would do well if they have trained coaches that are dedicated to have one-on-one sessions with the younger employees to help them focus on work and enable them to be more productive. Managers, who themselves are very young in many organisations, would not be able to manage a distracted lot of Gen Zers. A coach who can sit with them to ask what they are struggling with and help them with coping mechanisms, would help both the Gen Zers and the organisations,” said Wadhwani.
“Bringing them to the workplace would be better for their productivity, but a dull and boring office can be off-putting. The positive aspect is that Gen Zers want to have conversations,” he added.
Intent Matters
Experts say the ‘intent’ part will grow with age among Gen Zers. “Our research indicates that health is going to play a bigger role because they do have the intention to purchase healthy snacks as they age, much like millennials. A flavour-first approach and strategic pricing will play a big role for snacking companies to tap into the Gen Z customer base,” said Joshi.

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