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Marketing Tips and Tactics for Driving Gen Zers to Your Restaurant in 2023

A key factor in determining whether a restaurant will succeed in 2023 will be the number of young clients it welcomes. You could be a restaurant that offers the best food in town, but if you’re not attracting folks from Gen Z, your business could be in trouble in the next couple of years. That’s because these young customers are the driving force behind trends in the food industry.

Who are they?

Expected to make up 40% of consumers within the next decade, Gen Zers were born between 1997and 2012 and are 10 to 26 years of age today. It’s this crucial group of middle and high school kids, college and grad students, and young professithat have the greatest influence.

This generation spends an average of two to five hours every day on social media. And if you consider 8 hours of their days are devoted to sleep and another 8 hours to work or school, 25% to 63% of their waking free time is spent on social media platforms. Therefore, if you want your brand to succeed with Gen Zers, you need a marketing strategy that engages with them where they live.

What it comes down to is this—if you’re not targeting this age group, you’re missing out.

We’ve put together some key tips you need to know to market your restaurant to Gen Zers in 2023.

Social media is the new word-of-mouth

Word of mouth will always be one of the effective advertising tools for restaurants, but the medium has changed. No longer just people telling people about their experiences and preferences, word-of-mouth is now spoken on social media for the Gen Z generation.

Encouraging word-of-mouth marketing on social media is a great way to attract these younger customers because they’re very vocal about their restaurant experiences and tend to share them with friends across their preferred platforms.

Know which platforms speak loudest to Gen Zers

A vital part in the lives of Gen Zers, studies show that a staggering 44% of users use social media hourly, with 72% visiting YouTube on a daily basis. Without a doubt, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and Tic Tock are the top social media platforms for Gen Zers, a group that is influenced much more by social media comments than TV commercials.

But this group is highly selective as to which channels they use for what. To reach these consumers, businesses need to be aware of the way they select certain social media channels depending on their needs.

Top social channels for Gen Zers

Snapchat: A relatively new (but huge) player in the social media arena, 73% of active Snapchat users are Gen Zers. The main communication tool used to keep in touch with friends, 61% of Gen Z is using this “in the moment” tool on a daily basis, so marketing your restaurant on Snapchat is a great way to meet this group where they live.

Instagram: The most popular overall social media platform among Gen Z, Insta’s simple, user-friendly interface makes it a highly desirable channel for this age group to interact with friends. Allowing users to upload, edit and share photographic moments, 63% of this customer group turns to this platform when looking for inspiration.

Tip: Avoid flooding user feed and focus on quality rather than quantity.

Facebook: Though Gen Zers are less active on Facebook than on Instagram and Snapchat, it is the preferred platform for scrolling through video content. Restaurants can capture and engage with Gen Zers through daily videos or live streams since Gen Zers are more likely to scroll for information than create their own posts on Facebook.

Tip: Running targeted paid Facebook ads is a great way to attract Gen Zers.

Podcasts: Compared to Millennials, considered the largest “audio generation,” Gen Z is playing catch-up in the podcast revolution. In fact, studies have shown that Gen Zers are more likely to listen to at least 2- 3 podcasts a day.

TikTok: Offering a visual and interactive user experience, TikTok is highly appealing to Gen Zers’ short attention spans and their overwhelming preference for video.

Twitter: Even though only 45% of Gen Zers still use Twitter, it is the preferred channel for quick content searches and engaging in conversations. For this reason, you should focus on volume on Twitter rather than curating images. Gen Z also uses this platform to show support and raise awareness on topics, causes, and relevant even

Consider Gen Zers’ shorter attention spans

As a group, the Gen Z attention span is extremely low compared to other generations. While the average Millennial’s attention span is 12 seconds, Gen Z’s attention span is just an average of 8 seconds. What this means is that Gen Zers do not have enough patience to go through all the content that is constantly being thrown at them.

And this low attention span has a direct impact on the type of content that captures their attention. If the content is too long or overly complicated, there is a good chance it will be passed by.

Because they have been exposed to the internet and mobile tech since the day they were born, Gen Zers tend to skip ads and avoid heavily sponsored content. They know exactly what they are looking for and won’t waste time deciphering information if it does not pique their interest.

Regularly bouncing between 5 screens at a time, it’s important to gear your marketing strategies to fit their attention spans in order to capture their attention and get their business.

Influencer marketing is changing

Influencer marketing has changed a great deal over the past few years. Today’s Gen Zers want to see real, relatable people who share the same struggles and care about similar issues in marketing campaigns.

Gen Z is more interested in the message behind a piece of information and supporting brands and influencers that set conscious consumption trends related to topics like animal welfare, equality, diversity, and human rights. In order to engage with this generation, your brand story and content should take into consideration social justice, inclusivity, and sustainability.

It’s also very important that your marketing is transparent, authentic, honest, and devoid of fraudulent marketing tactics like greenwashing in your content.

Use value-relevant content

Gen Zers suffer from social isolation more than other age groups, and they use social networks to fill their need for human interaction.

Fueled by the desire of Gen Zers to live in the here and now, your marketing efforts should focus on relevant, useful, and valuable content. Your brand story should be consistent, relate to their core beliefs, and be empowering. In other words, rather than asking them for something, offer solutions that inspire and help them achieve their goals through a personalized experience.

This means creating value-added, information-packed content on a regular basis. Gone are the days when one blog post a month will suffice. This generation wants content that matters to them, and they’ll seek out brands that provide it.

Discount driven

Gen Zers are more inclined to patronize businesses that offer incentives and rewards programs. Besides integrating a product or a service into their lives, discounts and exclusive offers create urgency, appealing to a desire to live in the moment. And since Gen Zers have more limited funds than older groups—and because they are tech-savvy and can easily find great deals—the best way to attract them is to make them an offer that they can’t resist.

Delivery behaviors and expectations

Behaviors, attitudes, and expectations of consumers regarding restaurant delivery vary by age category. When many jurisdictions loosened laws around off-premise alcohol, a lot of restaurants took them up on it, and many consumers don’t want to give up that convenience. But the option to pick up a beer with a burrito appeals to some generations more than others.

According to a recent study, 70% of Gen Zers said the ability to add alcohol to a takeout or delivery order is a determining factor in their restaurant decisions. So, if your business is in one of the states that still allow alcohol delivery, it would be wise to keep that service going if you want to keep Gen Zers happy. In other words, don’t let the competition steal your customers away because they’re delivering alcohol and you’re not.

Marketing Strategies for Attracting Gen Zers

Set Up Cool Fundraisers

Fundraisers are a great way to capture the attention of a younger audience and boost awareness. But it takes planning, good organizing skills, a bit of creativity, and dedication to get results.

Start with finding a non-profit organization, local community program, or charity that needs help and simultaneously connects with your business ethos. Consider causes that would appeal to your target audience, such as:

  • Animal welfare

  • Food insecurity

  • Global warming

  • Local farming

  • Addiction and recovery

Next, get in touch with the key contact person in charge of organizing the event and let them know you’re interested in supporting their cause. Tell them your restaurant would like to host an event at your restaurant. Be sure to ask how they'd like to handle the press coverage and marketing and if they’d prefer to write a press release themselves.

If they're a larger organization, they might prefer to have their own writers do the work, but if not, offer to write it yourself. (IOW, don’t pile on more work for them—do everything you can to make their lives easier.) Hire a freelance journalist from a platform like Upwork to help you write a press release if you don’t have time to do it yourself.

The next step is creating a menu that whets the tastebuds of your younger target audience and makes your event stand out.

Finally, promote the event on social media and on your website.

Create experience-themed nights

Young clients love themed nights because they promote imagination and offer unique experiences. Consider hosting an “Island Themed night” while playing reggae music and holding a jerk chicken cooking demonstration, for example. Offer an extensive menu of island-themed dishes, cocktails, and beers at reasonable prices. Schedule themed nights on a certain day of the week to pique their interest.

Change themes each week, so customers will begin to Google “what’s this week’s theme” will be. Create a calendar featuring the themes of the month and post it on your website. Print out some simple and inexpensive flyers and post them in your restaurant, and stuff them in your food delivery bags as well.

Host live music events

Music plays a crucial role in attracting new customers, especially the younger set, and live music is the key. Hire local musicians that play the music that appeals to your demographic and speaks to your brand.

Offer birthday discounts

Birthday discounts are simple to offer and can attract a wide range of new customers. Start by collecting your guests’ e-mail addresses and birthday information. Add them to your restaurant’s calendar and shoot them an e-mail when the day arrives. Offer a 50% discount, free dessert, or complimentary drinks on their big day. Guests will remember your restaurant because of your welcoming vibes, and the celebration is a perfect photo opportunity for your guests to share on social media.

Use mouthwatering photos

If you don’t have high-quality pictures on your website, it’s a good bet that young clients will click away and find a business that does. When your goal is to attract a new younger audience, pictures are everything. And because first impressions matter, taking high-quality photos for your website and social media is key.

Have a presence at local events

Partnering with concert venues or music festivals by becoming an event vendor is a powerful way to promote your business to GenZers. And you’ll become especially influential if you participate in events in unexpected places or serve menu items that are out-of-your-recipe-box.

Not only will more people learn about your restaurant, but by being out there with other vendors vying for the same crowd’s business, you’ll get to know the latest trends. The perfect venue for testing innovative menu items, you can offer samples, discount coupons, and promotional materials while gaining valuable insight into consumer preferences.

CBD-infused foods and beverages are a huge trend among GenZers, for example, and a concert or festival are great places to test drive an item that previously may not have even been on your radar.

By Eileen Strauss


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