Nutrition that supports both physical and emotional well-being is thriving. It can target different generations with more specific holistic approaches to help identify opportunities and optimize innovation. New research from Innova Market Insights, The Netherlands, identifies key characteristics and differences among Generation Z, millennials, Generation X and baby boomers and the way that holistic nutrition approaches can be tailored to these generational groups.

Generation Z, the youngest age group aged 22 or below, is the most likely to use physical activity to improve health. Sixty-seven percent of U.S. consumers in this age group (in an Innova Market Insights Consumer Survey) claimed to be increasing physical activity to improve their health and wellbeing. As a result, they are seeking food and beverage products that support physically active lifestyles and protein-rich innovations are surging.

These consumers have been born into a highly connected world, where traveling has become readily accessible. According to the Innova Consumer Lifestyle and Attitudes Survey (2018), travel is the top choice among Generation Z for experiences and events most enjoyed during leisure time (average of U.K., U.S., Brazil, China, France and Germany). They are traveling the world and being exposed to new cultures and food experiences, such as adventurous dishes, along the way. The industry widely has responded by developing world flavors for young consumers to taste when not traveling.

Meanwhile, millennials, those born between 1981 and 1996, tend to focus on balancing body and mind, with 53 percent reporting a focus on increasing their “happiness.” They are interested in mental, as well as physical wellbeing, in ethical consumption and in healthy indulgence. They also are seeking to up positives, such as protein and fiber, in the diet, rather than reducing “bad” nutrition. This preferably is combined with on-the-go solutions to fit with their busy lifestyles. They also are the most concerned age group when it comes to environmental and ethical issues and they are even willing to pay a little more for such products.

Generation X, now aged between 39 and 54 years old, has a strong focus on emotional wellbeing, with 55 percent of U.S. consumers in this age group taking steps to improve their mental health. They like to prioritize family time and to socialize, particularly outside the home, have above-average levels of interest in natural and organic foods, and tend to look to reducing meat, alcohol and caffeine, while upping consumption of fruit, vegetables and fish. Natural, positively processed and guilt-free products are most likely to make connections with Generation X consumers.

The baby boomers, generally regarded as those born between 1946 and 1964, making them between 55 and 73 years old, now make up 23 percent of the U.S. population and, perhaps unsurprisingly, healthy aging is top of mind for them. They are the most likely of the generations to change their diet to improve health, with a strong interest in functional foods, personalized nutrition solutions, plant-based options and in reducing intake of “bad” ingredients, such as sugar, fat and salt. An Innova Market Insights Consumer Survey indicated that 54 percent of U.S. boomers had reduced sugar intake or bought more reduced sugar products to be healthier.