4 ways to keep foodservice relevant for Gen Z

Gen Z students

From Café Bustelo.

There’s a lot of buzz about what millennials look for in foodservice today—avocado toast, anyone?—but when it comes to Gen Zers (born between 1993 and 2003, ages 13-23), operators may need a little more help to figure out how to get them in the door.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, Gen Z makes up 15% of the population, and many are entering the workforce, which means more money to spend on foodservice. Capitalizing on that opportunity is key for operators. Older Gen Zers visit restaurants more often than other generations, and as they gain more independence and spending power, they’ll likely utilize foodservice even more, according to Technomic’s 2016 Generational Consumer Trend Report.

Appealing to Gen Z, thankfully, isn’t a tough code to crack. Check out these tips for increasing Gen Z interest.

Focus on customization

Customization is key for Gen Z. When choosing a place to eat, 50% say the ability to customize the meal, including having the option to change portion size, is important. If your menu is more “one size fits all” than “have it your way,” it might be time to rework some of the offerings. You don’t have to come up with new dishes, either—offering swappable sides or snack-sized portions is a great place to start.

Utilize technology

Gen Z and millennials were brought up with technology, and many expect it to cross over into various aspects of life. Introducing online ordering, prepay options, cashless point of sale and touchscreen menus, for instance, are all ideal tech additions for your operation. Tech features make dining more convenient, and when your customers are busy and on the go, that convenience is key.

Participate in trends

Hitting again on the customization aspect, mini coffee bars play into the desire to customize drink orders. Offering flavored syrups and specialty milks is a surefire way to appeal to Gen Z’s coffee preferences, while boosting ticket average thanks to the premium ingredients.

Micro-restaurants are also on the rise—think food trucks and food hall-type eateries. Nineteen percent of Gen Zers have eaten at a food truck at least once in the past month, according to the Technomic report, and these smaller concepts give operators the chance to try out new and interesting flavors without dedicating an entire menu to a theme.

Offer unique flavors and ethnic options

According to the report, 31% of Gen Zers say they’d like restaurants to offer more ethnic foods and beverages, and 30% also say they prefer to visit restaurants that offer dishes with new and innovative flavors and ingredients. Additionally, 59% of Gen Zers say they like trying new flavors of food from time to time. Operators stand to benefit from offering a good mix of both comfort food favorites as well as new and exciting ingredients and flavors.

Technomic’s MenuMonitor shows that in the past year, some of the fastest-growing ingredients in main dishes and entrees are gochujang, cucumber dressing, graham cracker, bone marrow, fig spread, kumquat and poke. These unique ingredients offer Gen Zers new and interesting options for meals, and offer operators the chance to try out ethnic flavors and unusual ingredients, keeping their menus fresh.

More From FoodService Director

Managing Your Business
management team

Last week’s NACUFS National Conference proved to be a treasure trove of management and staffing takeaways. Here are a few we noted at the annual event , held this year in Providence, R.I.

1. Make it scalable

When explaining something new to staff, instead of asking, “You got it?” or “You with me?” have employees rate how well they understand the new material on a scale of 1 to 10, said Ron Paul, a senior consulting partner for Partners in Leadership, during a session on building accountability in the workplace. People are likely to say yes even when they don’t fully grasp what you’...

Ideas and Innovation
song break

Once per month in a daily huddle, we dedicate a few minutes for the staff to sing a short song. The staff has responded so positively to this. They now bring costumes and other props. It's a few short minutes, but the payoff has been tremendous.

Photo courtesy of iStock

Ideas and Innovation
plastic straws

An item about the size of a pencil has become the latest target in foodservice operators’ sustainability plans. Though small, plastic straws are said to have a large impact on the environment, with Americans using approximately 500 million straws each day, according to a release from Chicago’s Shedd Aquarium, which temporarily ditched plastic straws as part of an Earth Day promotion this year.

In recent months, a growing number of eateries and cities across the United States have scrapped plastic straws. In July, Seattle enacted a ban on plastic straws and utensils, requiring...

Industry News & Opinion

Medford High School in Medford, Mass., is looking to add an orchard to its campus, Wicked Local reports.

The idea for the orchard was brought forth by students looking to help combat food insecurity. They are working with the school’s nutritionist to make the orchard a reality.

If planted, the orchard would be located inside the school’s courtyard and would grow fruits such as apples, paw paws, blueberries, peaches and plums. It would also include an outdoor classroom space.

The school committee signed off on the project last year; however, some administrators are...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code