A few years ago when most Millennials were in their twenties and thirties, business owners were doing their best to find the most optimal ways to target this demographic. Today, Millennials are all grown up, in their mid-twenties up to the early forties. Now, there is a new generation gaining influence and capturing businesses’ attention: Gen Z. In this post, I will explain who Gen Zers are, why restaurants should target them, and how to do it effectively.
Generation Z, known as Gen Z or Zoomers, is a demographic cohort succeeding Millennials. Researchers use the mid-to-late 1990s as starting birth years and the early 2010s as ending birth years. That means that today Zoomers are between 10 and 25 years old.
So why should you care about Gen Zers? The older cohorts of Gen Z are in college or have already graduated, have disposable income, can legally drink alcohol, and are very likely to visit your restaurant.
There are even more reasons to pay attention to this new generation. Gen Z makes for 27% of the U.S. population and has 44 billion dollars in buying power. These statistics make this cohort bigger and wealthier than Millennials. Generation Z already has a big impact on the economy and its influence will only increase in the years to come. If you start marketing to Gen Z now, you are very likely to beat your competition in the race for Zoomers’ loyalty.
Gen Z values authenticity more than branding; therefore, it is important for them to see relatable people in marketing communication. To use this to your advantage, you could showcase your employees, managers, or customers. It can be done on social media, in the email newsletter, as well as on your website.
Authenticity also means that you shouldn’t strive for an immaculate look in your marketing. The content should look like it was created by humans, not robots. Certainly, the quality of images, videos, and copy should be high; however, do not be afraid to try new things and be creative. A less polished look is particularly important while creating content for Instagram Stories and TikTok. If you would like to learn more about best practices for Instagram Stories, read this post.
This is a simple but powerful piece of advice. According to a survey by IBM, 75% of Generation Z selected a mobile phone as the device that they use most. This means that your website needs to provide a great, not just good, user experience on mobile devices.
The same strategy should be implemented in your email marketing. Always triple-check that the email looks great on a mobile device. Before scheduling the campaign, you can send a test email to yourself and open it on a desktop and a mobile device. If you run any advertising campaigns, also double-check that the images and text are optimized for mobile.
Videos have already gained popularity among Millennials but they are absolutely dominating when it comes to Gen Zers’ preferences. Video content requires more time commitment to produce compared to images or text, but it generates much higher engagement among the younger generations.
Zoomers have an attention span of approximately 8 seconds, which means that your videos need to be captivating. Stories on Snapchat, Instagram, and Facebook are a great way to share your video content, but not the only one. You can also include videos on your website and in your email and advertising campaigns.
In case you are wondering what types of content to include in marketing videos, here are some ideas:
Not all social media platforms are created equal in Gen Zers’ eyes. Instagram and Snapchat are the two preferred social media channels. On the other hand, Facebook has lost popularity among the young generation.
Studies have also shown that Gen Zers use different social media platforms for different purposes. For instance, Instagram is used to showcase their aspirational self, which is why you will want to create content that speaks mostly to their aspirations. Furthermore, as Market Wired revealed, Instagram is the most popular app for brand discovery, with 45 percent of teens using it to find new products.
What should your restaurant do as a result of these discoveries? You might not want to and probably shouldn’t abandon your Facebook page entirely. However, the one social media platform preferred by both Millennials and Zoomers is Instagram. I would then recommend you to focus your attention there.
If you are active on Instagram, remember to post Stories in addition to the regular content. You can also try to dabble in Reels since this medium is still not saturated with restaurant content. Generally, I would advise you to make an effort to post as much (high-quality) video content as you can.
Other platforms that you might want to pay attention to are Snapchat and TikTok. TikTok has recently become one of the most popular platforms among Generation Z. As of August 2020, it had over 100 million users in the US alone. If you need some additional TikTok inspiration, you can brainstorm ideas with your staff for more authentic content.
Working with micro-influencers, defined as influencers with less than 10,000 followers, has become the preferred strategy for many brands, both big and small. It is due to the fact that collaboration with micro-influencers is cheaper and usually more effective than working with celebrities or macro-influencers.
Collaborating with micro-influencers can be very effective especially when targeting Generation Z. According to surveys, Gen Zers are the loneliest generation in America, so they are actively looking for ways to engage and connect with like-minded individuals. Micro-influencers offer their followers a special sense of community, which is mirrored in higher average engagement rates compared to those of the influencers with a bigger following.
So what should you do? Create a perfect influencer persona that you would like to work with. Consider where they live, the type of content they create, and, very important, who their followers are. Next, do research online to find them! Before working with any influencer, remember to discuss the terms of the collaboration and have them on paper.
60% of Gen Zers want to positively change the world through their work and they want to buy from brands that can do the same. It is, therefore, important to showcase what your restaurant stands for, why it exists, and what its values are.
You can highlight your “good” initiatives such as working with charities or participating in local community events. Whatever you do, make sure to be authentic. As we already discussed, Zoomers value authenticity more than brand image.
Generation Z pays attention to and takes advantage of online reviews. 41% of this generation read at least five online reviews before making a purchase. They also share twice as much positive feedback as negative. Therefore, make sure that your restaurant’s ratings on review sites are high. It is also a good idea to ask Gen Zers to post positive reviews after their visit to your restaurant.
What is more, 76% of Gen Zers want brands to respond to feedback and view this responsiveness as key to determining the authenticity of a brand. Thus, you should pay attention to the reviews about your restaurant and reply to all of them in a respectful manner.
Generation Z, just like Millennials, values experiences more than products. They also look for authenticity in brands. To market to them, focus on storytelling. Storytelling includes creating and sharing stories that evoke an emotional response in the reader, thus making the experience more memorable.
As a restaurant leader, make sure to tell stories about the food that you serve instead of simply posting photos of the menu items. Think about how the dish was created, who came up with the idea, how it is prepared, what it can be paired with, and so on. You can highlight the cocktails and wines in the same way.
To sum up, Generation Z is already a powerful cohort that will only get more influential in the near future. Restaurants can already take steps to win over this demographic and build their loyalty for the years to come. To do so, my recommendations for your restaurant are:
A lot of the strategies described above target both Millennials and Gen Zers, which is another reason why you shouldn’t wait to implement them.