Tastes & Tech: How to Serve Gen Z

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Last year, Gen Z – the 85 million people born between 1995 and 2010 – spent close to $80 billion in restaurants. They are almost as “hungry” as Boomers, the leading group in out-of-home food and beverage spending.

Although many of them are still not quite at drinking age, Gen Z takes food and beverage choices quite seriously. They grew up only knowing a world with technology, so their phones and their taste buds are closely connected.

They are more price- and health-conscious than Millennials and have, in fact, been dubbed the “no nugget” generation. They spend roughly a fifth of their disposable income on food, but are looking for the best combination of price, value, ingredients, and experience, not to mention 24/7 digital connectivity and ease. They may have higher expectations from brands then Millennials, and speed of delivery (combined with quality) is of utmost importance.

 

What Gen Z Wants in Food and Beverages

Ethnically diverse and global thinkers, Gen Z is willing to experiment with flavors. But they also like to know what they’re consuming, interested in the ingredients and not just the tastes.

They also like to “keep it casual,” and are fans of fast-casual dining. This is in part due to budgets but also because many of these restaurants allow guests to personalize their meals (think Chipotle), and even calculate nutritional values. It’s all about transparency and options!

Think about how you can incorporate those trends into your cocktail and food menus. Experiment with tastes and bring local ingredients into your menu. Gen Z also likes to know who is making their food, so don’t be afraid to showcase your chef and servers in your marketing campaigns.

 

Speaking of Marketing…

Tech is the main ingredient. From deciding where to eat to sharing photos of their food, Gen Z is all about using their phones as lifelines.

They order take-out more than any other generation in history, so to keep them coming into your bar, restaurant or club you’ll need to offer them experiences that compel them to get out of their chairs and sit on yours.

Virtual reality and augmented reality are still beyond the reach of most small businesses, but watch as new uses are being developed and integrated into marketing pushes.

Social responsibility is greatly important to this generation, so aligning yourself in an authentic way with a cause they care about can be a great way to build traffic and loyalty. Make sure your marketing is highly visual as well as telegraphic. Keep in mind that this is the Snapchat generation.

 

No Sex, Driving or Drinking?

Studies show that Gen Z is a rather conservative and thoughtful group. A 40-year study of teens throughout the decades shows that Gen Z likes to hang out with their parents and stay close to home rather than go out to party. When they do go out, they tend to travel in groups, so make sure you’re offering experiences and options that people can share with their friends.

The most entrepreneurial of all generations, this group wants to be deeply involved in creating and influencing. So, rather than guessing at what they want and need, involve them in your business and marketing planning.

They will be using technology in ways that previous generations could only imagine, so be sure your business is fully wired (or, wireless!) for their tastes and needs.

Want more? Read about how to hire and manage Gen Z here.