Knowing that each generation comes with their unique changes, what can we gather from Generation Z, who are more connected than ever? How has constant technology shifted consumer values, what is the impact on our guests in F&B, and how can we address this foresight through thoughtful and strategic design in the guest experience?

The solution isn’t just a refocus on digital channels. We need to unpack the new values and expectations coming in with this generation and understand its impact on the F&B business. Here are some top values to consider when designing for Gen Z.  

  • Diversity & Inclusivity – Gen Z is more racially and ethnically diverse than previous generations — in race and gender, but also in identity and orientation.  Gen Zers travel in packs that are more diverse and considered more progressive than generations before them, bringing different cultures, preferences, ideas, and identities to the table. Studies show that Gen Z are more open to discussion of differing opinions as long as there is a common shared value at its core.  
  • Community & Connection –  Gen Z are craving meaning and connection — they are looking for a sense of belonging.  Research has indicated that Gen Z are a lonely generation, yet they love sharing and being “seen”.  Referencing back to their native environment in technology, many of their relationships begin and rely on digital communication channels, online communities or follow micro influencers. Nonetheless, they don’t undervalue the power of physical experience as an escape from the virtual world.  
  • Truth & Meaning – Having lived their entire lives with access to the internet, GenZers have been overloaded with information. They need to filter through a lot of noise to find facts and are looking to more micro influencers rather than celebrity endorsements. They hold the power to “cancel culture” and keep social and environmental issues top of mind. In a survey, 65% of respondents said they were likely to pay more for a purpose-driven brand and would pay, on average, a 48% premium [1]. Research suggests that a search for truth   is at the root or Gen Z behavior [2].

How does this affect F&B?

It’s no news that Generation Z expects quick and convenient service making brands such as Taco Bell, McDonalds, and Wendy’s popular commercial brands for the price-conscious diners. Even these brands need to find ways to retain this consumer base.  Taco Bell has been ahead of the curve tapping into F&B-Retail collaborations and “challenging society’s status quo” through the clever use of their “ReBELL against Tuesday Tradition” campaign [3]. But what is to come when Gen Z dominates the market from 40% to 80% of consumers? How do brands need to anticipate this new consumer in the casual dining segment?

With a wide variety of options available at their fingertips, this generation is looking for spaces that are comfortable for everyone in the group. As Gen Zers enjoy sharing time and meals with their friends, the makeup of personalities, backgrounds, and interests come along with them. Consider how your venue fosters different groups of guest dynamics. It’s essential that your service offers a taste for everyone, addressing various bold flavor profiles and using flavor to connect with emotions.  Flavor of choice may be dependent on days, feelings, or specific occasions [4].   In parallel to being fast, convenient, and inclusive; brands must also find a way to be personalized.

F&B brands need to deliver more than just a space to eat:  restaurants are essential hubs of community building. Either as the go-to meet up spot or an intriguing new concept, Gen Z is after spaces that encourage open dialogue and shared experiences both on-premise and online. Take this as an opportunity to understand where your brand fits into these different communities, oftentimes they are the first moments of truth  to guest conversion. 

The Melting Point  does a great job of addressing the needs of Gen Z. In addition to catchy phrases and instagrammable food; the brand goes deeper in creating hubs of community and making a grilled cheese sandwich as simple or as complex in flavor as the day calls for. An added offer of Home Kits to build your own signature sandwiches turns eating-in into a shared experience at the convenience and comfort of your own home. “Nothing brings people together like grilled cheese,” a statement written on the walls and sentiment shared by guests both on and off-premise. Check out more how we helped    The Melting Point Brand Development.

A brand that is not authentic to its values will be quickly put aside by this generation.  Consider how your brand is exemplifying integrity and truth in your offerings, service and guest experience.  Transparency is key here and Gen Z will filter through the noise to find brands that are trustworthy and take a stance on pressing societal issues.  This isn’t just about putting a banner on your website.  Brands need to find their authentic purpose and integrate this value-based culture into various guest touchpoints.  Curated playlists  that reflect your brand’s personality is a powerful invisible touchpoint to help transmit your brand values and enhance the overall guest experience. It also helps you personalize and tweak the mood and ambiance of your restaurant according to different occasions and days. A research by HUI gate has proven that when you play the right brand playlist compared to random music, 9,1% of sales increase. With Gen Z willing to pay more for purpose and meaning behind brands, the effort in bringing forward this content can increase your bottom line.

Find creative ways to bring your brand values to your guests. Highlight socially relevant matters, such as sustainability practices and diversity, on your digital channels and your physical location.  Technology can be used here to your advantage or to your demise. With a strong understanding of tech, Gen Z will see right through fake news.   Be intentional and authentic in design. Lastly, be sure to evaluate your use of  technology, as it should feel integrated and natural to your brand and the connection you’re looking to make with your guests.

Make sure your brand is ready for the generation shift. Not sure where to start?  Contact us, we’re here to help.