Cult Snax Leader & Gen Z Seer Andrea Hernández On Brand Building, The Gen Z Paradox & How To Market Sustainability

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Andrea Hernández is the founder of Snaxshot, a platform for emerging food and beverage brands whose newsletter has become a must-read amongst young founders and veteran CPG brand folks alike thanks to her astute observations and just snarky-enough cultural musings. She highlights trends, showcases under-the-radar brands and calls out BS as she sees it. Below she talks to Green Queen‘s Sonalie Figueiras about being what she she’s building, the differences between Gen Z and Gen Alpha, what brands are getting wrong about sustainability and being a closet millennial.

Sonalie Figueiras: Can you share more about Snaxshot and how it began? What’s your mission?

Andrea Hernández: I’m building something that really hasn’t been done before. So it really kind of is taking shape on its own. I would say Snaxshot is the rebellious underdog of the food and beverage industry, where we’re open and creating space for conversations that we believe are important to have around about something that’s so essential [what we eat and drink] but also using humor and parody to address the subjects. 

It’s its own unique community, where we invite people to share in their own indulgences, to partake in discovering new products and new snack concepts and emerging founders, and help create a platform that levels the playing field for people who have baby brands but don’t have $5 million in seed money that they got from their rich friends. 

This space is really to serve that community and those types of brands, and we’re having fun as we build and navigating the trends that we pick up on and are able to kind of parse through the bullshit or the noise and do away with the fluff and the smoke and mirrors and just be honest and say: do we really need more beverage [brands]? Probably not. 

We kind of mold ourselves to be the intermediary person, the glue that holds the community, the slingshot. The one who helps people understand brands and consumers in this ever-changing landscape of food and beverage.

Sonalie Figueiras: I see you as a sort of a Gen Z seer, and what I really want to understand from you is what is a Gen Z consumer looking for from a food brand?

Andrea Hernández: It’s so funny because a lot of people identify themselves with Snaxshot [and see it] as having a younger demographic but I keep telling people: I’m 32 years old! I am not part of your demographic whatsoever! 

I think it’s just [my] unfiltered way of living, where people go: ‘I love to hear from someone who is speaking my language or speaking the truth or being transparent and not trying to pretend’.

I feel like for me, Gen Z-  which is by the way not even the youngest one anymore because you have Generation Alpha approaching their mid-teens fast and so I feel like that’s going to create like this whole other momentum as well- but for me, the younger demographics really tried to parse through the bullshit in a more expedited way, so that’s why you see all these Tik Tok people analyze and break down things with this air of authority…their thing is to uncover things and discover: what’s the real truth? There’s this approach of skepticism, which I think is necessary. And I feel like older generations just haven’t brought this in. 

Gen Z is the generation that’s asking: ‘Wait, why? How come this is happening? Why is this happening?’

Courtesy: Snaxshot

Sonalie Figueiras: Yeah, that’s interesting. Let’s talk about what I like to call the Gen Z paradox, whereby Greta Thunberg is their patron saint but they are also the Shein generation. How can you be a generation that is so aware of things like BIPOC and DEI and the ethics of supply chains and you’re questioning things and bringing truth to power and creating the biggest physical protest movement of the last 50 years but then at the same time, you know, you are avidly consuming the fastest fashion brand out there? 

Andrea Hernández: Yeah, 100%, I know what you are saying. But, we don’t have to live in absolutes, right? We are multi-dimensional. [They are] a multi-dimensional generation. 

I feel like everybody lives within a spectrum. So are they more aware of all these issues? Yes. But you know what’s also a paradox? The fact that Gen Alpha is completely rejecting those things. The most popular snack brands for Gen Alpha are goldfish crackers by Mondelez. So where Millennials are trying to get their kids to eat ‘veto’ (keto + vegan) and plant-based and drink prebiotic sodas, the kids are getting into their teens and saying: ‘No, I want to have a fucking Coke. And I want to have goldfish crackers.’ We’re seeing the same kind of generational countercultures that you saw with yuppies versus the 90s grunge movement. You have millennials and Gen Z and then Alpha and it’s a three-decade loop that seems to be repeating itself, where we are starting to see what Millennials rejected as kids eagerly embraced by Gen Alpha. It’s a very interesting time and space.

And I tell people we’re not going to really know much until the end of the decade when we have these two new generations entering adulthood. By the end of the decade, you’ll have the eldest Alphas turning 20 and most of Gen Z will be in their 30s, most millennials will be 40-50 so more time is needed to make a generational assessment.

Gen Z is the generation that’s asking: ‘Wait, why? How come this is happening? Why is this happening?’

Sonalie Figueiras:  That’s very interesting. I like what you’ve said about how we’re allowed to have a duality. But I want to press harder. You do spend a lot of time looking at brands, analyzing brands, talking about brands, you know, telling brand stories, and interacting with these brands. Does sustainability matter? Does climate matter?

Andrea Hernández:  See, that’s what I’m trying to kind of get a good picture of with Gen Z, with our new college program, which is: bring in whatever you have in your college pantry and your college apartment and trade it for these brands that promise to be sustainable and say: ‘we’re better for you’, ‘we’re recyclable’, ‘we’re better than the stuff that they can get at a regular supermarket’. And these brands are just so new that they haven’t had access to retailers that Big Food has, because it’s a very unfair structure, it’s very pay-to-play, and whoever has the most money has the best real estate. 

Brands like Brightland for example, a millennial-led brand that focuses on making sure that all the workers [are well-paid] and that the oil that they procure is sustainable. But it’s a $40 olive oil. Does Gen Z have that amount of disposable money? No, not yet. It’s a complicated conversation because I do think that they want to do better but they are just getting into their mid-20s and getting a stable job that gives them expendable income to justify a $40 bottle of oil. And then the education [piece] comes up. They are saying: ‘Why are these products priced so high?’ You see this with plant-based where people are asking, ‘why isn’t it the same [price] as meat? Why is it more expensive?’ 

So I would say there is interest in sustainability. People are seeing the effects of climate change, it’s happening around us. But at the same time, there is a duality because I can’t afford to buy a $40 ‘better for the environment product. 

I think that we just haven’t addressed the elephant in the room, which is our indoctrination into over-consumerism. And this is why you see the Shein issue. This whole paradox we haven’t addressed is that we keep getting indoctrinated into overconsumption and doing things that we don’t necessarily need. And we have deviated so far from [traditional] cultures where you use everything that was available to you. And are we going to get back to that anytime soon? I don’t know. Is this the paradox, the more tech-forward we become, the less we go back to our roots and [are able] to be less wasteful? There’s a very loaded tension there.

Sonalie Figueiras: Right, there’s a tension there. Because on one hand, we want to give indigenous communities back their voices and their power, and their land stewardship, we want to learn from them, we want to rehabilitate them in their rightful place as stewards of the land. But at the same time, we also want more products, more scale, more growth. We live in a neoliberal capitalist economy. And, you know, to some extent, even the way you’re working with brands…they’re also working with you because they want to sell more stuff.

Andrea Hernández: Oh, I mean, I was embracing this from the moment I started Snaxshot, I made this into a parody of the state of where we are right now. I’m literally parodying what a snaxboi is, you know fuck boy-meets-Erewhon. The only thing that I’m doing like that I feel is better is that I’m helping brands with diverse founders get a shot to try to make it better. 

You know, like my friend Maricel Saenz who does Minus Coffee. She’s addressing the reality of what a climate-catering brand looks like and she is a female founder from Costa Rica. Not your typical person, [not the type] to raise a few million easily to get this off the ground or to get products made. Or I have a Mexican dried fruit brand growing mangoes on local farms that don’t have anything added so it’s healthier. Getting her into US retail, so that she as a Mexican female founder, which is unheard of, can do these kinds of things like getting into Erewhon Market or getting into Foxtrot and [to be able to] give that visibility to her. This is why I do it. I see myself as an intermediary.

So I don’t see myself as trying to push people to buy things as much as I’m trying to sort of make the [creation of] space the goal. 

But I do get what you mean. That’s the whole parody of Snaxshot: do we really need another fucking beverage? [The answer] is no. 

I joke about how I saw this article by Bon Appetit that said we’ve reached peak beverage. Bro, this is three years too late. We’ve [at Snaxshot] been talking about peak beverage, we’ve been saying ‘sea of sameness’, I’ve been making memes about how capitalism breeds innovation but then you get a beverage aisle with the same fucking looking drinks. We have always been highlighting this. But at the same time, it is what it is. We live in a hyper-capitalist society. Once again, we live in a spectrum. I don’t consider myself uber-capitalistic, but I also have to work for a living. Does that make sense?

Courtesy: Snaxshot

Sonalie Figueiras: Of course, it’s so refreshingly honest, and I mean, let’s call the climate capitalist controversy spade a spade, you know. It’s the paradox we all live in. 

So my last question is: what general advice would you give a brand creator? Specifically, the brands that we talk a lot about, and write a lot about and report on at Green Queen, the  future food brands trying to disrupt animal agriculture and lower the GHG emissions of the food on our plates? 

Andrea Hernández:  Yeah, I think a really good example of this is a brand called Juicy Marbles. They try to add humor to what they do. You’ve got to meet people where they’re at. Also, brands- just tell me in one sentence: what is it that you’re doing? How am I helping? What is it that you’re disrupting? Why is this needed? Seems like [a lot of brands] haven’t really been able to do that. 

My advice is: make it easier for people to understand. It’s all about simplifying the message and not being overly scientific about it. I understand and respect the science, but we’re simple people, we’re human beings. There are literally studies that show that pretty packaging makes our hands move towards it because we think it’s cute. 

Take the non-alcoholic movement. They copied what alcohol was doing, which was sexy marketing. And it worked for them. So my biggest [piece of] advice is that if you want to get mass appeal, you have to have a mass message.  I come from a communications background and you have to sexify [the message]. Unfortunately, this is the world we live in. And you can tell people: this will literally save the world. But if it’s not in a way that they can understand and that they’re familiar with, it’s just not going to be something that I feel will be successful. S

Sonalie Figueiras: What I’m hearing from you is, brands, you’ve got to be relatable. And that’s really, really good advice.

It’s all about simplifying the message and not being overly scientific about it.

Andrea Hernández: You’ve got to meet people where they are and appeal to their sense of understanding. Your average consumer is not [necessarily] going to be someone from New York City or LA. These brands want to be mainstream, right?

So if it’s not a message that you’re going to be able to convey in a way that they can understand, then there’s something that needs to be reworked. 

This is why the water brand Liquid Death has been so successful. People said: who’s gonna buy this? Water is a commodity. That’s so stupid. $2 for a water can? But the branding is the message, right? And it’s turned into a billion dollar company in four years. The same with the non-alcoholic industry. They’ve been able to sexify themselves.

Sustainability needs that feeling of ‘I want to be part of that’ and I think beyond food and beverage, beauty and makeup are doing a better job in terms of sexiness and defining themselves as sustainable brands to appeal to that. 

Sonalie Figueiras: Absolutely. Thank you, I appreciate your time and your expertise. And I’m looking forward to sharing it with our audience and having people learn from you about how to build brands for a new generation.
Andrea Hernández: I’m excited to read it and share it. This was a really great conversation. I try to be as honest as I can. I’m not trying to cancel anybody. I’m operating from an intermediary sense. I’m just trying to create a win-win structure for everybody in whatever medium or platform I have to contribute from. Everybody has their own mission in life. I’m not saying I’m gonna change the world with what I’m doing, but I’m just trying to do what I can.


  • Sonalie Figueiras

    2021 Women of Power, 2019 GEN T Honoree, V Label Global Hero, 2 x TEDx Speaker: Serial social entrepreneur & trends forecaster Sonalie Figueiras is a sustainability expert, food futurist and eco-powerhouse who has been inspiring global audiences for over a decade with practical steps on how to fight climate change. Known as the Green Queen of Asia, she is the founder and Editor in Chief of the award-winning Green Queen - the region’s first impact media platform that educates millions of readers on the connection between health, sustainability and the environment and showcases future solutions. She is also the co-founder and CEO of organic sourcing platform Ekowarehouse and climate tech SaaS Source Green, which helps consumer brands quit plastic packaging thanks to proprietary plastic reduction software. In addition, Sonalie is a global keynote speaker and an advisor to multiple mission-driven startups and NGOs, and a venture partner to several VC funds.

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