Since nearly the beginning of restaurant marketing, savvy owners figured out that the 18-to-35 age group should demand a hefty share of their promotional dollars, since this age of customer was establishing eating-out habits that would probably carry through for the rest of their lives. We now refer to this coveted customer age group as Generation Z— that millennial cohort born between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s — and though the game hasn't changed, some of the rules have.
QSR operators remain "in love" with these relative youngsters and now a network known as Unidays has released a study that casts light on "What Restaurant Need to Know About Gen Z." The study — based on qualitative research generated by a survey of more than 1,800 U.S. Generation Z students last August — highlights common misconceptions and often surprising trends when it comes to understanding and engaging this sometimes tough-to-reach consumer subset.
Here are four of the major findings from the survey results that quick-service operators can both learn about and put to immediate use:
1. They’re not as broke as we may think.
According to the report, 78 percent of this age group spend most of their money on food and they’ve even already showed they’re more financially savvy than other millennials, so realize that even though they have the cash to spend, they’re judicious consumers.
2. Community-based incentives are key
Nearly 93 percent of this age group said they are more likely to try a restaurant that offers discounts. Forty-one percent of those surveyed said they learn about new menu items this way, while 20 percent turn to social media for that information and 19 percent get the information from their friends. The report said that these findings indicate local restaurant offers and similar promotions are best suited for community-based platforms that build love for the brand.
3. Real-time tactics are real winners with this spontaneous age group.
Only about 5 percent of those surveyed said they plan meals in advance, while 48 percent said they try a new quick-service chain each and every month. In short, real-time approaches have a real effect on these teens and young adults, so think about mobile push alerts to promote menu items with pricing geared to these consumers. Likewise, splash lots of images and video snippets of products into those efforts to entice the buy.
4. Competition from campus meal plans is draining away.
Almost 48 percent of students surveyed said they don't have a campus meal plan. Students said that almost half of the restaurants around their schools provide special offers targeted strictly at them anyway, and they like that, with 78 percent responding that they do, in fact, take advantage of these offers.