How to attract Gen Z: Feeding the next generation of foodies

They are tech-savvy and they know what they want. Find out how restaurants and hospitality operators can market to Gen Z, the largest generation on the planet.



Feb 15, 2022 - 4 min read

How to attract Gen Z: Feeding the next generation of foodies

Born between 1998 to 2016, members of Gen Z are not only tech-savvy but are conscious consumers who are always on the lookout for the next new thing. Thanks to the internet, Gen Z are also globally-minded foodies with diverse tastes.

From intermittent fasting to vegan sushi to Instagram-worthy lattes, Gen Z influences all parts of food and eating culture. As diners who have the power to change the scene and have disposable income to spend, Gen Z's have not only become crucial customers in the restaurant industry, they are the future of hospitality.

Here are six things that restaurant and hospitality owners need to know to attract the next generation of foodies to boost their restaurant revenue.

1. Build your Instagram presence

Instagram has established itself as the go-to resource for Generation Z. In the US alone, 76% of the user population among the age group of 18 to 29 years old say they use Instagram.

The social platform doubles as a search engine where people go to discover everything, from life hacks, and fashion to volunteer organizations. It is also a place for Gen Z to follow celebrities, influencers, and their favorite restaurants as well. That's why for restaurant businesses that are aiming to attract this growing market, a strong online presence on Instagram is essential.

Aside from just uploading photos and Instagram stories, restaurants should engage directly with their customers through comment sections and direct messages. However, to give a better-personalized service, restaurants should consider hosting giveaways, conducting polls, and answering their queries as quickly as possible. With 53% of younger Instagram users visiting the app several times a day, it is important to stay active and consistent.

Take advantage of Instagram’s location services and hashtags to attract new customers. Instagram posts have 10 hashtags on average, and Gen Z are most likely to find your restaurant through such search tools. When they do, include relevant information in your Instagram bio, for example opening hours, address, and website links. Make your restaurant easily accessible to draw in as many Gen Z customers as possible.

21-year-old Kaori Kondo, who completed her internship at TableCheck this January.

Taking an Instagram picture of a meal

2. Create an on-brand Instagram feed

More than 71% of US businesses employ Instagram as part of their business strategy, and 80% of businesses consider Instagram engagement as the most important marketing statistic.

When creating an Instagram feed, restaurants need to make sure all their posts and pictures are consistent with their restaurant's overall branding image.

If it is a casual dining place, the answer may be to post quirky, graphic illustrations or vibrant, high-resolution photos. However, a fine dining restaurant may require darker, moodier pictures to fit the aesthetics of the restaurant better. Price point, cuisine, and location of the restaurant can help owners determine what vibe suits their restaurant the best. Remember, Gen Z's are constantly on the lookout for a “vibe”, so these visual cues should match what the restaurant is all about.

See how Rock Bar Bali of Ayana Resort and Spa showcases the very best of their bar venue–the rock formations, the sunset and the cocktails–a Gen-Z paradise.

3. Showcase your team

Social and cultural issues matter to Generation Z. In fact, 24% of Gen Zs are more likely to purchase from brands that support inclusivity, diversity and equality.

Being transparent about the behind-the-scenes of business is, therefore, a crucial step in gaining their trust and loyalty. Gen Z's are eager to learn about the businesses they are supporting and the people behind them. They want to see real and relatable characters. One way restaurants can do this easily is by showcasing their staff in their Instagram feed and highlighting the diversity of the restaurant team, both in backgrounds and areas of expertise.

Show that you are proud of your team and that your team is proud of the work that they do.

Chef prepares a salad dish

4. Cater to Gen-Z tastes

With Gen Z setting trends in all walks of life, they are also impacting the hospitality sector more generally. These young diners are always on the lookout for novelty and experience but they also place value on important issues like health and nutrition.

The plant-based industry has been skyrocketing in the post-pandemic world– a result of worldwide demand from both Gen Z's and millennials. To resonate with Gen Z guests who are into a more vegan lifestyle or simply having a break from eating meat, restaurants should offer plant-based meal options as part of their menu.

However, don't stop with just vegan options to cater to Gen Z. Highlighting anything new and exclusive will surely pique the interest of these guests as they are more likely to try a variety of food, including drinks and global cuisines. Gen-Z also loves to eat snacks so consider offering smaller meals or side dishes as a menu extra.

Plate of vegetables

5. Offer loyalty programs

More than 64% of Gen Z diners repeat their visits to restaurants that have loyalty programs. To retain these guests, these reward-based incentives should also be incorporated on-premise or off-premise especially when they purchase online or across other brand touchpoints.

Apart from loyalty programs, restaurants should also ensure that they provide a personalized experience to these Gen Z diners. Think of having birthday discounts and other offers on their special days.

The TableCheck booking and guest platform helps restaurants to gather crucial information such as preferences and important days which are essential for starting a loyalty program or personalizing guest experience at the restaurant.z

The TableCheck restaurant booking and guest platform
The TableCheck restaurant booking and guest platform

6. Support F&B initiatives

Restaurants are an integral part of urban life. Beyond eating habits, restaurants influence consumer culture, job markets, and daily lifestyles.

When restaurants give their support to initiatives that impact the F&B industry and the community as a whole–such as hospitality working conditions, sustainability, climate change, managing food waste and etc.–it gives these Gen Z diners the idea that a restaurant is a purpose-driven brand that they can identify with. However, Gen Zs are extremely resourceful, and therefore maintaining integrity is essential to gaining their trust. 

With competition in restaurants growing especially in the post-pandemic world, restaurants should rethink their business strategy and find ways to accommodate this growing clientele. They will be impossible to ignore.

Two girls sharing messages on their phone

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