Generation Z: What Restaurant Operators Need to Know

May 02, 2022

Generation Z has disrupted many industries and stumped advertisers with their unusual preferences. This group of young people born between 1996 and 2012 has diverse wants and needs which should not be ignored. 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

The National Restaurant Industry’s 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry confirms that 85 percent of Generation Z uses third-party apps like GrubHub, DoorDash, 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.


takeout and delivery

Reach Them with Social Media Marketing

Restaurant owners need to find the right social media platform to reach potential Gen Z customers. 71 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’re into Trying New Things

Most diverse generation thus far. 22 percent of Gen Z has at least one immigrant parent.

According to a recent report, 90 percent of Gen Z would be willing to try something new. While earlier generations like Baby Boomers value nostalgia, Gen Z has been said to value uniqueness. Consider adding menu items that are a marriage of the two, like a pizza with a Vietnamese twist.


They Want to Like and Subscribe

First made famous by a few fast-casual leaders like Panera and sweetgreen, Gen Z is more curious about restaurant subscription programs than their elders. 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.


like and subscribe


They Aren’t Big Drinkers (of Alcohol)

Gen Z, along with Millennials, has been notoriously bringing down alcohol sales. These generations tread lightly into addictive lifestyles–and are wary of losing control and tarnishing their reputation with photos and videos that could be posted to social media. If your restaurant emphasizes alcohol, it might be a good idea to supplement this part of the menu with nonalcoholic beer and mocktails.


Although they aren’t into alcohol, this generation does make up for it in their desire to drink other types of beverages. Gen Z appreciates a “third space” like Starbucks, where they can drink a coffee or coffee alternative and sit down with a laptop, not feeling pressured to order a meal. Restaurant owners can set up a part of their restaurant conducive to this, like a small bar going along an exterior window.


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.