Today's college population is primarily comprised of ethnically diverse, digitally native Gen Zers, whose foodservice needs are distinct from those of other generations. Here are some things Yale Unversity is doing to appeal to Gen Z, as noted by Adam Millman, the school's senior director of dining, while speaking on a panel at the 2017 National Restaurant Association Show.
1. An updated student dining app
Yale recently launched the second phase of its dining app, which now allows students to look up the specific farms their food is coming from. Gen Zers want to know the story behind their food, Millman says, and Yale is using technology to address that.
The app also allows quicker speed of service—a key need among Gen Z—with preordering and pickup food options, he said. (Almost half of college students say speedy service is important for foodservice purchases, up from 31% who said so in 2015, according to Technomic’s 2017 College & University Consumer Trend Report.)
Additionally, the app delivers against cleanliness and food safety needs by allowing students to provide feedback if they see something in the dining hall that doesn’t look clean or safe to them, Millman says. Yale can then react to this feedback in real time.
2. Catering to Gen Z staff
To appeal to its dining service employees, many of whom are members of Gen Z, the university launched a mobile scheduling app that allows users to discuss their assigned shifts with coworkers. Yale also leans on videos for training, which can be viewed on phones and iPads and on video screens within the kitchens.
3. Playing to authenticity
“Gen Z students don’t want hybrids; they want authentic flavors that they would actually have if they were traveling to [a specific] country,” Millman says. “This generation is well traveled and well informed.”
Two-thirds of college students (66%) say they are more likely to purchase food that is authentic, and 34% say they would pay more for it, shows Technomic’s 2017 College & University Consumer Trend Report.
4. Crafting an experience
“We’re finding on campus that students are sometimes putting away their phones and seeking out a dining experience instead,” Millman says, which is why Yale offers meal delivery kits and hosts farmers markets every Friday. Students will purchase food at the market and host pop-up dinners with their friends, he says.