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  • Bosco Ferrao

Generation Z: What Restaurant Operators Need to Know

There is a mix perception of Generation Z. The generation born in the late 1990s or the early 21st century, perceived as being familiar with the use of digital technology, the internet, and social media from a very young age.

This generation made 14.6 billion restaurant visits, accounting for a full quarter of all foodservice traffic. This is further proof that they put a lot of spending into experiences, and with the right menu, atmosphere, and marketing, you can make sure you’ll be their next destination

With the oldest ones in this group are now turning 26, the buying power of their generation increases considerably each year. Their desires will likely shape the future of the restaurant industry.

Here are a few clues about how to better serve this generation in the restaurant industry.

They Love Takeout and Delivery

Recent Restaurant Industry data confirms that 80 percent of Generation Z uses third-party apps like Zomato, Swiggy, Talabat or UberEats for takeout and delivery. These apps are known to take a cut of the profits, but by deciding not to offer your food through these platforms, you might be cutting Gen Z out entirely. When a member of Gen Z discovers a new spot, they’re likely to tell their friends about it, and they are also likely to visit you in person one day. So while you might lose out on service fees initially, you could be creating more loyal in-person customers down the line.

Get to them with Social Media Marketing

Do you need more customers for your restaurant, cafe, food stall, hospitality venue or hotel? Do you want to learn the fundamentals of digital marketing so you can get more customers for free?

The food & beverage business owners need to find the right social media platform to reach potential Gen Z customers. 80 percent of Generation Z is active on Instagram, making it the most popular social media channel. The runners-up are Snapchat and TikTok. Since Facebook is not as popular with this generation as with others, restaurants may want to diversify their social media marketing. Owners might want to tap into video content like Instagram Reels or TikTok; however, it’s important to remember to get your message across as quickly as possible. Researchers have found that the average marketing attention span of Gen Z is 8 seconds–that’s 4 seconds shorter than Millennials.

They Love anything new and trendy.

Restaurants have had a tough couple of years, with the pandemic, soaring ingredient prices and labor shortages. Now they have another problem: Gen Z isn’t all that interested in dining out. “The Gen Z audience definitely is more active on mobile devices than other generation groups,”

In addition to loyalty programs, restaurants are also teaming up with celebrities and influencers to get young consumers excited about their food.

Consider adding menu items that are a marriage of the two, like a pizza with a Vietnamese twist.

They Want to Like and Subscribe

Gen Z is more curious about restaurant subscription programs than their elders. Loyalty programs, celebrity meals and discounts get them all excited.

80 percent of them say they’re willing to try a program where they prepay a certain amount for a slight discount at a restaurant they frequent. Offering a program like this could convince more members of Gen Z to become regulars at an establishment.

They Aren’t Big Drinkers (of Alcohol)

But Gen Zers are taking it slow as they enter adulthood, either by not drinking at all, or drinking less often and in less quantity than older generations. The decline in youth drinking, according to experts, is remarkable and widespread in most high-income European countries, as well as the US, Australia and New Zealand. During lockdown, Gen Z Australians were most likely to have decreased their alcohol consumption, with 44% reporting they were drinking less – more than double the rate for any other generation.

38% of Gen Z drinkers are buying more non-alcoholic beverages than in the previous year

The trend in non-alcoholic drinks started growing noticeably on a global scale in 2014, but as more Zoomers come of age, their tastes and preferences are dramatically spiking sales. A recent 2022 consumer report, issued by the leading alcohol ecommerce platform Drizly, highlights that 38% of Generation Z buyers are drinking more non-alcoholic beverages than in the previous year. Compare that to just 8% of Boomers, 15% of Gen X, and 25% of Gen Y.

While it’s important to honor traditions at your restaurant, it’s also essential to keep an eye on the future. By shifting your marketing plan to be more inclusive of Gen Z, you will help guarantee that your establishment is here to stay.

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