Many of us thought it was a phase, but it turns out that the wellness way of living is so deeply ingrained in the younger generations, in particular, that it is now a significant and important part of the culture.
Not only is there an aesthetic appeal, which has been amplified by the likes of influencers, but there is also now a much more attuned understanding of the long term effects on health that the likes of binge drinking, smoking and poor diets can cause.
In 2018, it was reported that the number of smokers, in England, had fallen by 1.6million. This decline occurred over a 6 year period, with around 14.9% of adults in the UK classified as current smokers.
According to research, the youth of today are smoking far less than their predecessors, with much of this to do with education and cultural shifts, including the likes of social media.
There’s also the impact of alternatives such as vapes and improved stop-smoking methods, which include medication, hypnotherapy and events such as ‘Stoptober’.
After around two-decades of school classes and advertising campaigns focussing on anti-smoking, the message has actually had a lasting effect on the likes of Gen Z. It’s no longer ‘uncool’ to say ‘I don’t drink or take drugs’, with peers being one of the primary deterrents for steering away from the extra-curricular interests of previous generations.
Legal changes mean that Gen Z was also less exposed to smoking as children. With the smoking ban coming into place in 2007, they were less likely to remember when smoking in public, indoor areas were legal. Not to mention the cultural shift. The celebrities and musicians 90’s and 00’s kids looked up to are very different from today’s icons, and their subsequent lifestyles.
Even the dreaded social media, which is apparently rotting everyone’s brains and turning everyone into zombies who don’t want to speak to random people on the public transport, have too many opinions and don’t know how lucky they are (according to baby boomers who are still wondering why you haven’t accepted their request to play Words With Friends on Facebook), is doing some good.
Food and drink
An overall shift in attitudes towards the food and drink we put in our bodies has adapted and changed in recent years. People don’t actually want to eat junk food all the time, instead, they want to feel good. Now brands face more restrictions on advertising unhealthy food, with the lower exposure making the desire and awareness less so in young people too.
They also understand the overarching results that poor eating habits have on our bodies as well as having a solid cultural orientation towards body positivity and acceptance. Youth culture more heavily focuses on feeling good compared to the noughties tabloid era body-shaming, which focussed on making people feel bad for the way they looked and their body shapes – celebs in their bathing suits were particularly common fodder for the journos and paps of old.
Changes in the way young consumers behave, including living lifestyles which omit gluten, dairy, animal-based products, sugar and artificial additives are also commonplace now.
As a result, pressure groups have forced the hands of major brands to adapt and provide alternative options to cater to their dietary restrictions. There are more plant-based options available than ever before, where customers would previously be lumped with a vegetable burger, there are now tonnes of ‘faux-meat’ options teamed with a wider range of alternatives that aren’t just pasta or a salad.
Brands are cottoning on to the selling power of veganism and flexitarianism, which sees people reduce their meat intake for alternative options. Most restaurants offer a better range of vegetarian and vegan options now, with products created by the likes of Moving Mountains, making a significant impact on the appeal of plant-based foods in restaurants.
Their realistic product range, which includes burgers, sliders and hot dogs are specifically designed to offer a meat-free substitute without sacrificing flavour, texture or quality. Restaurants such as Reds True Barbeque, notoriously a hot-spot for meat-lovers, have even integrated these products into their menu. Although their whole brand appeal is focussed on appealing to carnivores, cultural shifts dictate they must cater for the wider community to ensure that they don’t miss out on a big group booking, simply because they don’t cater for one vegan in the group.
It’s not just the meat industry which is being disrupted. There is now a huge range of dairy alternatives such as Oatly who (you guessed it) create lactose-free oat-based milk or Alpro who sell a huge range of milk alternatives made from Hazelnuts, Almonds, Soya and Coconut, to name a few.
Even fast-food and lunch options are commonplace to find multiple options for plant-based diets. Tesco offers a colourful range of snacks and meals called the Wicked Kitchen, the Greggs vegan sausage roll was a massive hit, Subway created their first vegan dedicated sandwich earlier this year, Pret has a whole menu dedicated to these options and even Burger King is trialling a new completely meat-free Whopper in the US.
Another influence on the need to adapt to a plant-based diet is the great big glaring problem that is the environment. Gen Z is regularly faced with the daunting fact that if big changes don’t occur now, the world as they know it will quickly come to an end. With the overall feeling that some of the older generations aren’t as concerned but are still making key decisions which will have long-lasting effects, well after their fears, Gen Z is making local changes as far as they can to stem the bleed on the world’s resources.
We’ve previously discussed the impact of Gen Z’s decreased interest in alcohol, compared to their predecessors is largely due to health consciousness, social media and societal shifts in attitudes to drinking, particularly binge drinking. Instead, they opt for low alcohol, alcohol-free or simply keep more of a handle on their drinking in general.
Gen Z is concerned about their future, and their social media presence can have a lot to do with that. From being seen to be ‘out of control’ to making poor decisions which end up documented online and are out of their control, Gen Z would rather not take the risk.
There’s also the influence of celebrities and online personalities who advocate for healthier lifestyles and self-care. This means teenagers and young adults are less inclined to spend their money on getting blitzed on a Saturday night, instead of saving for more useful purchases which bring them more longer-term joy as well as social clout.
Seedlip is a great example of a company born out of the recent demand for non-alcoholic options which aren’t simply glorified fizzy pop. The thing that too many brands fail to understand is that many people actually enjoy the taste of certain alcoholic drinks, but don’t want to suffer the hangover or repercussions.
Nature Company, Seedlip owned by Diageo, aim to change the way the world drinks through creating high-quality non-alcoholic options, designed to be used in cocktails or combined with tonic.
The entire ethos and culture behind the brand is well-conceived and aligns nicely with the health and socially conscious individuals. They even support the user journey with an eclectic website and a range of non-alcoholic cocktail recipes, which also detail the craft and ingredients in each of their products.
Lastly, it’s important to consider that Gen Z’s priorities are completely different from those of some of their predecessors. Whilst there are some glaring similarities between Gen Z and Millennials there are also some considerable differences.
A report determined that Gen Z tend to rank family time and good grades over parties, sex and pub crawls, that Millennials so highly coveted in their teenagers years. Young people feel that they have a lot to think about and do and value time spent trying to achieve better in terms of career and education alongside spending more time on social media.
Not to mention the whole concept of drink, drugs, smoking and junk food are just plain expensive – a luxury most Gen Z-ers can ill-afford. Instead, they prefer to take time out with friends called ‘kickbacks’ – think less raging house party, White Lightening and trashed houses whilst the parents are out and more chilled evening playing games and watching films.
Technology also governs their risk-averse and cautious attitudes. They have access to tonnes of entertaining content and tech which means they can stay home and spend time with friends and family, whilst still maintaining stability in terms of saving for the future and securing their online persona in the wider global community.
Also published on Medium.