QSRs: How to Reach Generation Z

As a restaurant or QSR company, it’s important to build rapport with each successive generation in order to “future proof” your customer base. In 2020, that means connecting with Generation Z. According to Bloomberg, Gen Z comprise 32 percent of the global population of 7.7 billion in 2019, moving ahead of Millennials, who account for a 31.5 percent share.

Generation Z isn’t just “Millennials Part II”. They bring unique perspectives and attitudes to everything they do, including how they relate and respond to restaurants and QSRs. If you want to build your customer base for the future, it’s important to understand the Gen Z mindset.

How does your brand align with their principles?

As a restaurant brand, the biggest difference with previous generations might be less about their preferences and tastes, and more about the role your brand will play in their everyday lives. Rob Poetsch, Senior Director of Public Relations at Taco Bell said to QSR Magazine, “They don’t just buy our brand; they buy into the brand.” Gen Z wants quality, but quality goes beyond the taste of the food; it’s also about the organization behind the food. This is the future of restaurant marketing: demonstrate what you stand for as a company, and how your ethics and principles align with those of Gen Z.

Be honest, not superficial

More than any generation before them, Gen Z brings a level of cynicism to traditional “marketing speak”. By cross-referencing many sources of information available to them, Gen Zers tend to analyze not just what they buy but also why they buy. Superficial marketing messaging, especially if it is perceived as hype or misrepresentative of the product, will be rejected by Gen Z… or worse, they will publicly call you out for it.

Cause marketing

Millennials are concerned about the environment and in turn, the food industry’s impact on the environment. This caused a sea change in how restaurants and QSRs approached their brand, from sourcing ingredients to their marketing messaging. While Gen Zers are demonstrating similar environmental concerns, they are also motivated by social causes. Gen Z’s comfort level and savvy with digital media makes it second nature for them to unearth and share information about your company. Employee wages, working conditions, crisis management and business practices: Gen Z will have an intimate understanding of your brand.

Stand out from the crowd

In the past, QSRs could succeed in differentiating themselves based solely on the quality of their food. Those days are over. In 2020 and beyond, the brands that attract loyal followings are those that take unique and strong stands. A hamburger, no matter how tasty it is, is just a hamburger. What’s compelling to Gen Z is the story behind the burger: who are the people who run the company, what do they care about, how are they making the world a better place? The QSR and restaurant brands that tell these stories well – honestly, compellingly, consistently – are the ones that will rise to the top.

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