A few months ago, we told restaurant owners that Gen Zs were dining out less often and were price-conscious when choosing where to eat. But an updated report from The NPD Group shows that while price matters, their taste preferences and how they defined “value” were the deciding factors of what restaurant to go to for older Zs (18-24).
This leads them to quick service restaurants (QSR), particularly fast casual ones, that balance value and focused menu.
From July 2021 to July 2022, out of 5 billion visits to restaurants, Gen Zs went to QSRs 4.3 billion times. And while overall traffic to QSRs was flat, Gen Z visits to these fast casual restaurants were up 4% year-over-year.
While they choose these restaurants because they think they’re getting value for their money, the messaging counts, too. Gen Zs are attracted to eateries that “reflect their interest, like organics and sustainability,” according to NPD’s recently released Winning Gen Z Consumers study.
Food comes first for them when deciding to eat out. They choose what they want to eat and then pick where they want to go. And they want more choices from restaurants, “including local, low-calorie, organic, sustainable, and plant-based options.”
They’re not craving fancy food, NPD says. They want the “classic menu items, like burgers and chicken, and snack-oriented foods, such as bottled water and non-carbonated soft drinks. Chicken sandwiches are especially popular, “particularly those with value price points or a spicy profile.”
And advises David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America, “Now is the time to reach these young adults as they enter their peak restaurant usage stage. Focus on creative spins on classic foods, engaging relevant messaging, and generating value beyond price” to attract them.