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3 ways to attract more Gen Z diners

Photograph: Shutterstock

Consumers—and their spending habits—are changing. Leading that charge is Gen Z, the generation of consumers born between 1993 and 2000 that are currently anywhere from 18- to 25-years old. While they make up only 11% of the current population, according to Technomic’s 2018 Generational report, they represent a shifting demographic of diversity, tech savviness and an evolving approach to dining out, making them a group of consumers restaurants can’t afford to ignore.

Here’s how restaurant operators can attract more Gen Z consumers to their businesses.

Social media engagement

Unlike any other generation before them, Gen Z consumers rely on and are interested in all things online. After all, they’ve never known life before the internet. This means that operators have go beyond simply offering free Wi-Fi onsite—casual and family restaurants, as well as small chains and independent restaurants, will benefit from having a robust social media presence that engages with and entertains young diners. Gen Z consumers will be enticed by food and event postings on restaurants’ Instagram and Snapchat newsfeeds and may even post and tag themselves if so inspired.

Some examples of great social media usage? During LGBT Pride month this year, some restaurants partnered with social media influencers to pose with their limited edition, rainbow-hued Pride salad. Meanwhile, IHOP was successful in generating excitement about their new burger line-up by simply changing their Twitter handle.

Global flavors and fusion cuisine

In addition to their relationship with online media, Gen Z is also more diverse than other generations. When dining out, they are more comfortable with a wider range of ethnic cuisine and expect constant innovation and authenticity when it comes to global flavors.

Restaurants harnessing this opportunity include the casual-dining chain Grand Lux Café, which now serves Korean fried chicken in a burrito with kimchi and Sriracha mayo. The global trend has even impacted breakfast dining: Washington, D.C.’s DC Dosa restaurant specializes in dosas, a popular South Indian breakfast of spiced lentil crepes filled with curried potatoes and roasted vegetables, served with chutneys.

Takeout and delivery options

Craving innovative and ethnically authentic dishes that are often difficult to make at home, Gen Z consumers are the most frequent foodservice users. Technomic’s 2018 Generational report found that 29% of Gen Z consumers dine out or get takeout/delivery two to three days per week, with 20% of them doing so four or more days per week. As a contrast, only 4% of boomers dine off-site four or more days per week. That means Gen Z consumers are often drawn to establishments for their overall takeout capabilities and speed of service. 

Case in point: Popular chain The Melting Pot is starting to offer takeout after 43 years in the industry. The takeout trend isn’t just impacting casual dining; it’s affecting many fast-casual chains as well. Firehouse Subs is shifting focus from dine-in to takeout, and Chipotle is also transforming its restaurant layouts to include less seating as two-thirds of their business is now takeout.

When restaurants offer easy options for dining off-site, add innovative ethnic flavors to menus, and expand social media campaigns, they open their doors to the growing population of Gen Z consumers. 

This post is sponsored by Mrs. Dash Foodservice

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