Accounting for nearly 30% of the population, Gen Z is slated to have the largest influence on the restaurant industry. Here are some tips for getting them into your business.

Raised in the digital age, those born between 1997-2012 are changing the way brands interact with consumers. And food is no exception. In fact, "dining out" is the category Gen Z spends most of their disposable income on at 40% — beating out fashion, outdoor activities, and technology.

To attract this demographic, it’s important to think beyond social media promos, efficient delivery, and flashy gimmicks. Health, the environment, experiences, and authenticity are all top concerns for Gen Z. With minor adaptations, you can capture their attention and make them loyal customers.

Hone in on Health

Gen Z has become the most health-conscious, with 65% wanting to eat more plant-based meals. Offer a rotating "Meatless Monday" feature to build a base of regulars who will be stoked to see what's next. Green Origin® offers a line of plant-based products that lend themselves well to burgers, bowls, protein for salads, and more.

The demographic isn’t just seeking plant-based meals but checking ingredients and potential allergens as well. Gen Z will do their research on their phones before even leaving the house, so calling out nutritious aspects and marking any potential allergies on dishes can persuade them to choose your business over a competitor.

With the rise in popularity of "functional beverages" — drinks with health-benefiting ingredients — adding a few mocktails, kombucha, floral teas, and pressed juices for the "sober curious" generation can also be an efficient way to not only attract Gen Zers but boost sales.

A Sustainable Approach

This group is also the most socially conscious, with 73% considering the environmental impact of what they eat. They’re also willing to spend 10% more on sustainable brands. Consider efforts to reduce food waste, including composting scraps and donating uneaten food to local shelters. If you’re sourcing sustainable products, highlight them on the menu and ensure your takeout packaging is recyclable and compostable.

Digitize It

From QR codes to digital menus, contactless payments, online ordering, and in-store self-ordering kiosks, digital components appeal to Gen Z. They prioritize convenience and seamless interactions with brands, so consider adding digital elements on-premise and off-premise where possible.

Exceptional Experiences

Thanks to social media, Gen Z has been exposed visually to more international cuisine than any other. Traveling the world virtually through cuisine is standard. They want to try the mochi pancakes and vegan ube smoothies and do more than just eat and drink when they’re out. If you feature international recipes, consider offering a “passport” they can use to earn loyalty points and discover new foods. Offering one-of-a-kind experiences like dining in heated igloos, pop-ups, themed nights, limited time offers, or anything interactive appeals to this crowd.

Level Up Loyalty

And just because they value convenience doesn’t mean they aren’t faithful to brands. In fact, 79% of Gen Z love the idea of loyalty programs and 60% think all brands should offer loyalty programs. But a punch card won’t suffice here, instead opt for mobile app loyalty programs. Surprise gifts for loyal followers, discounts for students, gamifying rewards, or offering benefits for those who get involved with your local community can also pique their interest.

With Performance Foodservice’s One Source partner, FanConnect, you can build a mobile loyalty program that increases repeat business, monitors how much your patrons spend, and heightens brand awareness.

Social Success

According to another study, 85% of Gen Zers use social media to get to know brands, and 36% of TikTok users said they’d place an order with a restaurant after seeing them there. Interacting with followers via polls, giveaways, and featuring loyal customers on your feeds are all highly effective ways to engage. Remember, they visit these sites multiple times a day, so a unique, authentic, and compelling social presence is crucial. Create videos showcasing your staff, behind the scenes with your chef, and highlight tasty new LTOs.

Stay Fresh And Informed

Sign up for our newsletters for information on food trends, promotions, industry tips, and so much more.

Sign Up Today