Although price matters to older Gen Zs (ages 18-24) in the US, their taste preferences and definition of value dictate the type of restaurants they visit. As a result, Gen Zs skew towards quick service restaurants, particularly fast casual, that balance value and focused menu, according to The NPD Group.

In the 12 months ending July 2022, Gen Zs made 5 billion restaurant visits, 4.3 billion visits to quick service restaurants and 736 million to full service restaurants. Gen Z fast casual visits were up 4 percent in the period compared to a year ago. According to NPD’s recently released Winning Gen Z Consumers study, Gen Zs favor major fast casual chains that provide the menu items they want, value for the money and messaging that reflects their interests, like organics and sustainability.

Among the items that appeal to this group are menu classics like burgers and chicken options that are unique, craveable and can’t be replicated at home.

“Now is the time to reach these young adults as they enter their peak restaurant usage stage,” says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. “Restaurant operators can differentiate their brand with Gen Zs by focusing on creative spins on classic foods, engaging relevant messaging, and generating value beyond price.”