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Gen Z Insights is your source for the latest Gen Z marketing trends and perspectives, presented by UNiDAYS.

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Six quick tips for how restaurants can get Gen Z to the table

by Suelain Moy
    Download the report: Gen Z spending habits before and during COVID-19

    Vibe check: We asked Gen Z how they’re feeling about the holidays

    Over the past several months, UNiDAYS has conducted ongoing surveys among Gen Z students to get their insights and track any changes on topics ranging from...

    Gen Z, the individuals born after 1995 who currently flex $143 billion in spending power (make that $829 billion if you include what their families spend on them), are doing just about everything differently than their Millennial predecessors, and that includes dining out. UNiDAYS surveyed 1,893 Gen Z college students in the U.S. to give you a breakdown of Gen Z’s eating habits. Here’s what we found out: 

    1. Gen Z craves new dining experiences

    When it comes to eating out, Gen Zs are eager to try something new. They like to savor—and save while they're at it. Zs have a taste for adventure and also love to splurge on new experiences, with 78% willing to spend the majority of their budget on food (after tuition and bills, of course).

    2. They also have cravings for savings

    Even though they're willing to splurge, that doesn't mean they're not keeping track of what they spend. A whopping 93% of the college students we surveyed said they were more likely to try a restaurant that offered student discounts. (In fact, 78% are already taking advantage of the local restaurants that do.)

    3. Gen Z likes to sample new restaurants

    Gen Zs are putting 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% plan their meals in advance, even though 94% have access to kitchens.

    4. Off-peak hours present prime dining opportunities

    Gen Z students are willing to be flexible about meal times, so long as they get that discount. In fact, 91% 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

    Gen Z has 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

    First impressions count, and you've only got one bite to keep Gen Z coming back 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.

    To learn more, download Gen Z Insights: What restaurants need to know.

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