8 ways to market your restaurant to Gen Z

Generation Z is the restaurant industry’s newest customer base. Stir up their cravings with this guide to Gen Z marketing for restaurants!

So you want to fit in with the cool kids, but you don’t know where to start. If your restaurant is looking to master Gen Z marketing, we’re here to help! With the right marketing strategy and digital presence, your restaurant can engage this influential, tech-savvy generation today. 

In this post, we’ll share eight tips on how your restaurant can reach Gen Z through appealing, impactful marketing. But, first, let’s review why reaching this customer base is critical to your restaurant’s future success.

Why market to Gen Z?

Gen Z (born 1997-2012) is becoming a significant presence in the consumer market. By understanding its preferences and buying habits, you’ll learn how to secure this generation’s attention – and orders. 

Known for their creativity, activism, and short attention spans, Gen Zers are an influential demographic online and in their homes.

Gen Zers in the UK also spend a whopping 5.9 hours a day consuming content on mobile, which is great news for restaurants looking to grow their digital businesses. So, how can your restaurant stand out to Generation Z? Let’s dive into our top 8 strategies! 

Want to become Gen Z’s favourite restaurant? Here are 8 marketing ideas you can use to reach Gen Z customers

Marketing Idea #1: Focus on convenience 

Gen Z isn’t exactly known to have a great attention span. And who can blame them?

Growing up with endless social media options—and a pandemic that accelerated the rise in convenience culture—means the demographic has grown accustomed to seamless online experiences. So how can your restaurant keep up with Gen Z’s expectations? 

First, ensure that all information about your restaurant is accurate and easily accessible online—including menus, hours of operation, contact details, and Google my Business data. Second, consider offering late-night delivery. Many Gen Zers are in university, entering the workforce, or young professionals, so they’re most likely up late studying or partying. Offering convenient delivery to match their schedule gives you a great competitive advantage.

Finally, make sure your restaurant is listed on multiple delivery platforms. Gen Zers most commonly order from their phones using third-party apps, and offering delivery on every platform will help you reach more of them. 

Marketing Idea #2: Don’t try too hard on social media

Well… let us rephrase. If you want to market successfully to Gen Z customers, you should try without seeming like you’re trying. 

For one thing, Gen Zers are incredibly skeptical of traditional marketing—almost a third of the demographic blocks brands on social media each week. But the generation’s barometer for BS is equally as powerful as their adoration for authenticity. 

To avoid creating content that feels redundant or overly promotional, be yourself and don't try too hard to replicate others. The more authentic you are, the more you’ll be rewarded on Gen Z favourites TikTok and Instagram.   

Now, you might be wondering: How will I find the time to keep up with social media?

Between long hours and labor challenges, finding the time to ideate, craft, and post content can be a significant challenge. That said, consider leaning on your Gen Z-aged staff to take over your socials or hire a social media intern to help build your restaurant’s account. As we discussed, many Gen Zers are still in school and searching for opportunities to beef up their resume.

Marketing Idea #3: Make short-form videos 

Short-form videos (less than one minute in length) are a powerful tool for restaurants to showcase their menu items, atmosphere, and brand personality. For this reason, TikTok is a goldmine for restaurants looking to reach Gen Z customers. 

Since 40% of Gen Z uses TikTok for searching the web instead of Google, it’s a great platform to showcase your menu items, run promotions, and get the word out about your restaurant. TikTok’s algorithm is a total meritocracy, empowering small restaurants to compete with major brands. Plus, according to a recent study, 10% of small businesses that use TikTok go viral! 

Instagram Reels is another great way to reach Gen Z customers. Not only is food one of the best-performing types of content on the app, but Instagram Reels receive a 22% higher engagement rate than regular video content. You can also repurpose videos from TikTok to Instagram Reels and vice versa. If you’re looking for inspiration, check out these 27 Instagram Reels ideas or these 30 TikTok Video ideas for restaurants.

Marketing Idea #4: Consider your menu

If you’re looking to attract younger customers, it’s always a good idea to review your menu to see what’s working and not. Since Gen Z is the leading consumer of plant-based food, it’s important to offer delicious vegetarian or vegan dishes to them. 

Also, a whopping 70% of Gen Zers said that the ability to add alcohol to a delivery order is a determining factor in the restaurant they choose. Adding alcohol to your menu is a strategic way to capture Gen Z! Lastly, Gen Z is all about customisation, so make sure to offer plenty of meal options and modifiers on your delivery apps. 

Marketing Idea #5: Create an aesthetic 

It’s no secret that Gen Z is all about the vibes. So how can your brand create an “aesthetic” that appeals to them both on delivery apps and in-restaurant?

To create an aesthetic online, it’s important that your restaurant has consistent branding across social media and delivery apps. Ensure you have the same logo, colours, and imagery on all platforms! Additionally, investing in high-quality food photography is a must. It’s important to present each menu item accurately to manage expectations and avoid bad reviews. 

To create an “aesthetic” for dine-in customers, focus on your restaurant’s ambiance. Gen Z loves to record their experiences, which means free, user-generated content for your brand. 

Offering interactive experiences like photo booths, games, and social media-friendly backdrops is a great way to entice a young crowd. You can also consider hosting themed events or live entertainment. This will not only keep Gen Z customers returning, but also generate positive word-of-mouth and increase brand loyalty.

Marketing Idea #6: Offer limited-time promotions and discounts 

Gen Z customers are price-conscious, and they’ll take advantage of any promotion that comes their way. 

Offering limited-time promotions and discounts is a great way to create a sense of urgency and drive Gen Z customers to take action. If you’re near a university, schedule promotions and deals around special events. These timely discounts can also work for holidays, big games, and more!

You can also use social media to drive engagement and new sales through promotions. For example, you can create a Girl's Night giveaway for a free meal (to enter, customers have to tag a friend and the restaurant in their story). For something more interactive, you can launch a competition that encourages your followers to help name a menu item (best name wins a free meal at your restaurant!).

Marketing Idea #7: Work with micro-influencers 

Influencer marketing is a powerful tool for reaching Gen Z restaurant customers. Working with top influencers, however, is incredibly expensive. Luckily, partnering with micro-influencers is arguably just as effective and mutually beneficial. 

Research and identify micro-influencers (with less than 10,000 followers) who align with your restaurant’s brand and live in your area. Reach out and offer them a free experience: a free meal, menu sampling, a wine tasting, etc. This will create buzz around your restaurant and generate authentic content for the influencer to share with their followers. You can also re-use their content on your page to increase your restaurant’s credibility and get new customers through the door.

Marketing Idea #8: Be inclusive

Gen Z is more diverse than any other generation and more interested in social justice issues like human rights, equality, and feminism than its predecessors. Of course, your restaurant must be welcoming and inclusive to all, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation. This includes having gender-neutral restrooms and inclusive language on menus and signs.

Likewise, this hyper-connected generation cares a great deal about climate change and they appreciate businesses that take steps to reduce their impact on the planet. Offer eco-friendly packaging options and source ingredients from sustainable retailers to show Gen Z customers your environmental awareness. 

Marketing to Gen Z customers is crucial to the success of your restaurant. By focusing on convenience, authenticity, short-form videos, social justice activism, and personalised experiences, you can connect with this generation and establish a loyal customer base. 

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