This is how restaurants can attract these young consumers.

Sponsored by UNiDAYS.

Attracting new customers is crucial for restaurants, but as the country’s demographics change, so do customer needs. Younger guests have different expectations of the foodservice industry than previous generations.

The youngest set of consumers, Generation Z, has grown up in a fast-paced, connected world from birth. These individuals were born after 1995 and account for $828 billion in spending power and currently make up a quarter of the U.S. population. It is projected that they will represent 40 percent of the population by 2020, and their buying power will only increase. This makes it critical for restaurants to reach these elusive consumers to ensure they have healthy income now and for years to come, but how can they target guests?

UNiDAYS—a company that helps businesses connect with these younger consumers—surveyed 1,893 college students in the U.S. this summer and came up with a breakdown of Gen Z’s dining and eating habits. Here’s what they found out about Gen Z.

 1. Gen Z wants new food experiences.

Gen Z has a healthy appetite for savingsand free stuff. When it comes to eating out, Gen Z likes to savor—and save. They have a taste for adventure and also love to splurge on new experiences, with 78 percent willing to spend the majority of their budget on food—after tuition and bills, of course.

2. They have cravings for savings.

A whopping 93 percent of the college students we surveyed said they were more likely to try a restaurant that offered student discounts. In fact, 78 percent are already taking advantage of the local restaurants that do.

3. Gen Z likes to sample new restaurants.

They also put their money where their mouth is. Nearly half, or 48 percent, of the respondents told UNiDAYS that they try a new quick-service restaurant chain once a month. Almost 48 percent of survey respondents don’t have campus meal plans. And they’re spontaneous: only 5 percent plan their meals in advance, even though 94 percent have access to kitchens.

4. Off-peak hours present prime dining opportunities.

Students are willing to be flexible about meal times, so long as they get that discount. In fact, 91 percent of survey respondents said they’d be willing to eat during an off-peak time if there was a discount incentive. That presents a great opportunity for restaurants looking to find a foothold or boost traffic during slower times.

5. Gen Z is notoriously finicky about marketing.

These consumers have a picky palate when it comes to advertising.That means you won’t have an easy time telling them about these offers on TV or through traditional media. They rarely leave their homes without their phones. Targeted special offers via mobile alert can help you find their sweet spot, especially when they’re hungry. Another place to reach them is in a community where they’re already engaged and actively spending their time and money, like UNiDAYS.

6. You’ve got 8 seconds to grab their attention.

That’s all the time you have to convince Gen Z to keep coming back to bite for more. With an average attention span of just eight seconds, you need to create content that’s not just visually appealing, but mouthwateringly shareable on Instagram and Facebook.

Though Gen Z may have different expectations than previous generations, the answer is not a one-size-fits all approach. Restaurants can attract Gen Z by listening to their unique needs and building strategies that get them talking, eating, and sharing.

See the full report on attracting Gen Z here.

UNiDAYS is the world’s leading student affinity network, creating integrated marketing solutions to help brands connect with college students in 32 countries. “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 U.S., via UNiDAYS’ private online community network, from August 1 to 31, 2017.

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