If you own a restaurant, you should be aware of some demographic shifts affecting your industry. The oldest Generation Zers (ages 18 to 24 in this report) are changing their restaurant dining habits, according to Winning Gen Z Consumers, a recently released report from The NPD Group.
Historically, that’s the age demographic that often visits restaurants. For example, 20 years ago, when Gen Xers were that age, NPD says they averaged 284 restaurant visits per person annually. When millennials were that age, the Great Recession was roaring, reducing their average restaurant visits to 244 a year.
But, primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic, from February 2021 to February 2022, Gen Zers only went to restaurants an average of 218 times. NPD says the decline is not only the result of the pandemic—Gen Z apparently has “more interests vying for their dollars,” including apparel, footwear, beauty, and tech products.
But businesses that want to attract Gen Zers have to appeal to them on another level. The report “points out that many apparel brands have successfully tapped into Gen Z values, like diversity and empowerment, and, as a result, have gained a larger share of their spending.”
NPD says, “Increased spending on categories like apparel and overall inflationary pressures have heightened Gen Z’s price sensitivity.” Half of the Gen Zs say they dine out less frequently because of higher menu prices at restaurants. And “price is the most important attribute among consumers 18 to 24 years old when choosing a restaurant,” according to the NPD report.
David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America, advises restaurant operators to “quickly adapt to how Gen Z consumers think and feel.” He says, “An understanding of which menu items to emphasize, the food attributes they seek, menu innovations that appeal to them, and their preferred advertising platforms will help you win the favor of this valuable generation.”