Communication Tips with Gen Z for Quick Service Restaurants: How to Market to and Communicate with Gen Z Effectively

Generation Z, born between 1997 and 2012, is known as the “digital natives.” They were the first generation to grow up with the Internet as a part of their daily life. They are also the most ethnically diverse generation to date and will soon become the largest cohort of consumers. 

And just like every generation before them, what happens during their youth has defined their behaviors and values. So what are their behaviors and values? And how can you market to and communicate with them more effectively? Let’s dive into that very topic.

What is Unique About Gen Z?

Gen Z is known for being online–they work, shop, date, and make friends online. They are known to turn to the Internet when looking for information, including looking at reviews prior to making a purchase. 

While they voraciously consume online content, Gen Z is also facing an unprecedented behavioral health crisis. They have the least positive outline and the highest prevalence of mental illness of any generation. This most likely is fueled by global unrest, looming financial crises, educational interruptions due to the pandemic, anxiety about the fate of the planet, and more. 

Gen Z is also known for being more pragmatic. They are interested in belonging to inclusive and supportive communities. Gen Z is also known for being unafraid to express their personal style and are more politically and socially active than previous generations. 

Some of the things they value include racial justice and sustainability. They call for reform by government and business to battle climate change and wish to see something done to address rising student loan debt. 

Gen Z Consumption Habits

When it comes to their consumption habits, for them it is about access, rather than ownership (think subscriptions to streaming platforms instead of buying a movie or music). They also like to spend money on experiences that enrich their daily lives (in comparison to Millennials who are more likely to splurge on luxury). 

Gen Z is attracted by ease of use. So mobile pay and app-based services are a must to attract them. But despite their online nature, Gen Z actually likes brick-and-mortar more than Millennials. 

Communication and Marketing Tips

Now let’s look at some tips to help you attract Gen Z and turn them into loyal customers.

1 | Build a Brand that Resonates with Gen Z

Gen Z, much like Millennials, choose to do business with brands that share their values and ideals. They value sustainability and environmentally conscious businesses. They also value authenticity, diversity, and inclusivity. To align your brand with these values, you can try these things:

  • Source organic food locally and highlight it on the menu or social platforms
  • Prioritize transparency 
  • Include vegan and gluten-free options to make dining more inclusive

2 | Speak Their Language

Gen Z is known for their humor. Don’t be afraid to use playful language and fun graphics when marketing to this generation. They love a good eye-catching design. But they have a solid understanding of visuals and design, so pay close attention to typography, color palette, and other design elements. They also respond best to video, so make sure you are incorporating it into your social content. 

When speaking to them in person, your staff should remember to have some fun! Play to their sense of humor and allow your younger employees to speak their language by using Gen Z slang. However, keep this approach balanced. You still want your employees to be professional while creating a fun and unique dining experience for this generation. 

But most importantly, they value authenticity, so whatever you do in your marketing, make sure that you are still being authentic to your brand. 

3 | Have an Online Presence

Gen Z spends a ton of time online. In order for them to find you, you have to have a solid online presence. That means regularly posting to the social platforms they frequent (such as YouTube, Instagram, SnapChat, and of course, TikTok). Consider showcasing behind-the-scenes content that builds brand authenticity, or highlighting menu items that align with their health-conscious preferences. 

4 | Leverage Online Purchasing

Remember that Gen Z loves when brands make it easy to make purchases. While they do love going into brick-and-mortar locations, don’t forget to leverage online purchasing options. Millennials and Gen X love this too, so this is a win-win-win for quick service restaurants who offer this option. Whether you use a third-party platform, such as Uber Eats, or you integrate a pay online option, you’ll see an increase of purchases from Gen Z.

5 | Create an In-Location Experience

Gen Z loves having a fun and unique experience in-location. So create an immersive experience that aligns with their values. Kiosks where they can order on their own provides an ease of use option. More importantly, creating a memorable time through good dining design or even events (perhaps one that celebrates diversity) will attract Gen Z. 

Key Takeaways

Quick service is a highly competitive industry, so it’s more important than ever to be able to appeal to the different generations of diners. Remember, Gen Z has a preference for convenience and technology while also loving a unique in-location experience. But most importantly, leveraging their values, such as being eco-friendly and inclusive, will attract Gen Z and turn them into loyal customers!