UNiDAYS, a leading Student Affinity Network, revealed the findings of its Gen Z study: “What Restaurant Need to Know,” highlighting key tips for restaurants to make inroads with Gen Z. Exploring the attitudes and behaviors of Gen Z consumers in the US, the study highlights common misconceptions—and often surprising trends—when it comes to understanding student preferences and how to engage this notoriously hard-to-reach generation.

The UNiDAYS Gen Z Report: What Restaurants Need to Know, is based on qualitative research generated by a survey of 1,800 Gen Z students in the US. and unveils four key themes restaurants need to pay attention to:

1. Move Past the Broke Student Mentality

According to the report, 78 percent of Gen Zs spend the majority of their money on food. However, Gen Z has already proven to be more financially savvy than their Millennial counterparts. So, even though they have the money to spend, they want to be careful about how they spend it.

2. Community-Based Incentives Are Key

Nearly 93 percent of Gen Zs say they “are more likely to try a restaurant that offers discounts.” UNiDAYS recommends creating a personalized experience for students in a scalable way. Out of the Gen Z-ers surveyed, 41 percent said they learn about new menu items in the restaurant, and the remainder rely on social media networks (20 percent) and friends (19 percent). The best way to market these local offers are through community-based platforms that build brand affinities.

3. Embrace Spontaneity

Gen Z’s are spontaneous by nature. Only five percent of them said they plan their meals in advance while 48 percent said they try a new quick-service restaurant chain every month. Restaurants can take advantage of their willingness to try new things by using real-time tactics such as mobile push alerts for promotions of menu items and pricing geared towards Gen Z. Since they often communicate in images, it’s critical to dedicate “resources to leverage images and video snippets of your food across social and in promotions targeted at Gen Z.”

4. What Gen Z is Craving: It’s Not About the Meal Plan

Almost 48 percent of students don’t have a campus meal plan, and UNiDAYS says, “if they’re not coming to you, then they’re checking out your competition – which includes local and independent restaurants.” Students share that almost half of local eateries provide special offers for them and 78 percent are taking advantage.

The UNiDAYS 2017 report: “What Restaurants Need to Know About Gen Z” was generated through a quantitative online survey fielded among 1,873 verified Gen Z students in the US, via UNiDAYS private online community network. The survey was fielded August 1-31. Throughout the survey, the report refers to individuals surveyed as students and Generation Z.

Consumer Trends, News