Gen Z: The Growing Next Generation of Restaurant Patrons

Like the Baby Boomers before them, Millennials—the largest living generation—have long been the focus of restaurant marketing and menu development for the last 10+ years. But the next generation’s consumer habits demand attention not just in the marketplace but at the dining table as well. Generation Z, the tweens and students born between 1997 and 2014, now account for about 10% of food-service foot traffic (14.6 billion visits to restaurants last year).

What do these youthful consumers want on their tables?

The good news is that the preferences and demands of Millennials transfer well to the next generation: authentic cuisine sourced fresh and sustainable featuring all-natural ingredients is as appealing to this growing group of consumers as it is to their parents and older peers. Where they deviate is in the adoption of and demand for more and better technology in the process—both for convenience and simply for technology’s own sake. These digital natives can be impatient when what they consider basic technological conveniences are absent, and they will embrace technological use while feeding their sophisticated palates.

Considering adopting mobile order capabilities, kiosks, and other technology to support your service? Gen Z patrons will reward you with their patronage and loyalty. This generation nearly matched the mobile delivery orders of Millennials last year—and most of them haven’t even graduated high school yet!

Another important trend to consider with Generation Z is the growing passion for global cuisines. In fact, this generation is more ethnically diverse than ever, but their food interests aren’t limited to what their parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents enjoyed. In fact, the diversity seems to have fueled an adventurous palate, so expect this younger generation to enjoy trying new things—and seek out new culinary experiences on a regular basis.

Gen Z may seem like a small part of the market now, but their voice—and dining passions—will increasingly demand to be heard.

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