The oldest Generation Z consumers will be 22 years old in 2019, but they already represent 10% of total food service traffic, according to The NPD Group. Gen Zs made 14.6 billion restaurants visits in 2018, and their habits are beginning to make their mark on dining out and eating trends.
“A large percentage of this generational group has been raised to put a greater emphasis on the quality of food, whether it’s clean, fresh, or nutritionally beneficial, as well as its flavor and function,” The NPD Group says. “Their attitudes and behaviors about the foods they consume are now being reflected across grocery shelves and cases.”
Gen Z has grown up with a focus on the flavor and function of food rather than the brand name. This may make the group more challenging for food marketers to reach, NPD says. For example, if Gen Zs can’t take a snack with them, then they don’t really consider it a snack. Portability is the benefit they value most when selecting a snack, NPD says. Gen Z expects the complete package of functionality, added nutrients, and health benefits.
In the restaurant realm, Gen Zs frequently visit fast-casual restaurants and traditional quick-service restaurants. They are regular users of restaurant apps, delivery, restaurant tablets, and order kiosks, NPD says, because Gen Z is the first generation to never know the world without the internet or technology. In 2018, food service delivery orders by Gen Zs amounted to $552 million, and only a portion of Gen Zs are old enough to order their own delivery.
“Gen Zs can FaceTime their friends, text their moms, and order a pizza all at the same time,” says David Portalatin, food industry adviser for The NPD Group. “Although we’re just getting a peek at what Gen Zs will bring to our culture, economy, and society, this generation will be a seismic force as they emerge into adulthood under more prosperous economic circumstances, yet with their own differentiating set of values.”