As the youngest generation begins to enter the dining market, many restaurateurs are itching to know what they’re looking for. After all, this young generation will soon outpace Millennials. They already make up about 31% of the world’s population. As this group enters the workforce and finds its niche in a burgeoning market, countless restaurants will have to adjust to meet their needs.
Just like their predecessors, Generation Z — also known as the iGeneration — have strong ideas about food. More importantly, they have even stronger opinions about the corporations who serve them. For those individuals born in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the corporation is the enemy: it’s up to restaurants to clean up their act if they want to appeal to young consumers.
Here are some of the top trends among Gen Z that restaurants should follow to appeal to the younger market:
Plant-based options and alternatives
Generation Z grew up in a time of blossoming technological advancement. As such, they have always had a stream of information at their fingertips. And it was thanks to technology that information about the farming industry permeated their learning as they grew up.
That’s why it is only natural that this sect of the population wants to avoid meat. While there are still carnivores among the population, the majority craves plant-based options.. In fact, according to Forbes, about 75% of Gen Z-ers plan on cutting down their meat consumption.
For those who do eat meat, ethically-sourced and grass-fed options have become all the rage. They simply want to invest in restaurants that align with their values. Now that plant alternative options are readily available for restaurants across the United States, there’s no excuse for a restaurant to shirk on ethical environmental practices.
Eco-friendliness at the forefront
Another huge draw for Gen Z consumers is sustainability. This generation doesn’t want to patron restaurants that fail to recycle; when you want to appeal to the newest generation on the block, you need to emphasize eco-friendliness first and foremost.
In fact, more than 66% of customers claim that they’re more likely to visit a restaurant that invests in eco-friendly business practices. However, this isn’t always easy in the restaurant business. Single-use options and speed of delivery often result in cutting corners when it comes to recycling. Worse yet, restaurants often opt for harsh chemical cleaners to keep their restaurant floors gleaming. Should those toxic chemicals make their way into the water, countless plants and animals could be damaged.
So, how do restaurants reduce their carbon footprint? One way is to reduce the number of single-use plastics. Choosing to invest in recyclable or compostable paper products is becoming more popular than ever. Buying eco-friendly cleaners and ditching the harsh chemicals is another great way to stem the tide of harmful toxins in the environment. When a restaurant transitions to buying eco-friendly products, they can even use this as a marketing tactic to appeal to young diners.
Members of Gen Z want to be seen. According to some studies, the iGeneration is more social than ever before. As such, they want to see people who look like them in positions of power. They also want to know that the restaurants they visit are inclusive to everyone who walks through the door. Making your patrons feel heard and seen can go a long way in developing a strong consumer base for years to come.
The first step to inspiring change in your restaurant is by training the staff. This includes updating your staff on policies regarding sexual harassment, Safe Zone, and sensitivity training. Patrons will look for those certifications when they enter their favorite establishments.
Gen Z members are more connected than ever. It makes sense that they’d want their favorite restaurants to follow suit. Restaurants that align themselves with social causes and community engagement efforts will undoubtedly catch the hearts of Gen Z consumers across the nation.
Restaurants don’t have the best reputation when it comes to ethical consumption and sustainability. But these aspects of healthy living are what the new generation of diners crave. Follow these top tips when you’re trying to appeal to the upcoming generation.
Salman Zafar is an ecopreneur, consultant, advisor, speaker and journalist with expertise in waste management, waste-to-energy, renewable energy, environment protection, conservation and sustainable development. His geographical areas of focus include Asia, Middle East, Africa and Europe. Salman is the Founder of EcoMENA, a popular voluntary organization based in Qatar. He is also the Founder and CEO of BioEnergy Consult, a reputed consulting firm active in biomass, waste-to-energy and waste management segments.
Salman is a professional environmental writer with more than 350 popular articles to his credit. He is proactively engaged in creating mass environmental awareness in different parts of the world.
Salman Zafar can be reached at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org