Gen Z demands and values ​​are redefining grocers’ online presence

LAS VEGAS — Gen Z is proving to be a catalyst for new marketing tactics and media opportunities for industry grocers. Mere product advertising will not be enough, and this young generation, renowned for its activism, will not hesitate to let it be known, according to the panelists during a Grocery session focused on marketing to the new generation of consumers.

TikTok is a fast-growing and powerful social media platform, with over 1 billion monthly active users, 60% of whom are Gen Z, according to Wallaroo Mediaand retailers at all levels are harnessing its power to advertise and win new, younger customers.

Although the world of social media is daunting, Kristin Patterson, head of mass merchandise, departments and groceries at TikTok, encourages retailers to “get straight into TikTok,” she told the panel on Tuesday. . However, there are certain approaches that have proven to be the most effective when using the app, especially when trying to grab the attention of Gen Z.

Partnering with creators and their already established followers is a strategy noted by Patterson. According to her, when a TikTok creator advertises a brand or product on the app, Gen Z consumers are extremely likely to buy or search for it.

In trying to establish an independent social media presence, some grocers have tapped into current TikTok trends as well as popular hashtags.

From left to right: Kate Hardcastle with Insight with Passion Consultancy, Vanessa Pham from Omsom and Kristin Patterson with TikTok.

Peyton Bigora / Grocery Dive

Patterson credited Whole Foods Market with using trending sounds on the app to gain views. She gave the example of a video the grocer created by showing off his Berry Chantilly Cake which used a trending audio track. Whole Foods went the extra mile, Patterson explained, when responding to a viewer’s comment about wanting a dairy-free option of the cake with a additional video showing her private label Vegan Berry Chantilly Cake ice cream.

Hashtags and hashtag challenges are another social media tool highlighted by Patterson. In 2019, Kroger created the buyable hashtag challenge#TransformUrDorm on TikTok, making it one of the first brands to do so on the social media app. Despite being a few years old now, the hashtag has over 914.7 million views.

Even when grocers aren’t trying to become an internet sensation, TikTok can make one. Last summer, Sprouts Farmers Market has gone viral after praise for his $5 deli sandwich took off with the hashtag #cabbage sandwichwhich now has over 10 million views.

While social media is an effective tool for attracting Gen Z consumers, the generation is asking more of businesses than just being trendy online, according to panelists.

With sales and merchandising top of mind for retailers, Gen Z wants to know what companies stand for in areas such as sustainability and the diversity – something small startups are leaning into to grab the attention of the generation.

“Their BS meters are so much higher,” Vanessa Pham, co-founder and CEO of Omsom, which makes Asian sauce kits and pantry shortcuts sold in-store and online, said during Tuesday’s session. She said that Gen Z consumers pay close attention not only to a company’s values, but also to how well a company respects them.

Gen Z shoppers look to storytelling and connection to determine their loyalty to a company or brand. For Omsomas a small food start-up focused on Asian flavors, that means using social media platforms — and particularly TikTok — to project authenticity to the brand’s growing following.

Pham founded Omsom with her sister, and the majority of their TikTok content features them. The first video on their feed tells their story as Vietnamese-Americans, daughters of refugees, and the lack of diversity they grew up seeing in the “ethnic” aisle of mainstream grocery stores.

Education is also a driver of from Omsom marketing strategy, not only talking about the importance of his product, but also the the grocery industry ethnic food processing and categorization.

“As a brand, we live by our ethos,” Pham said. “And it’s something we build every day so consumers can trust us and see that it’s something authentic.”

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