Sunday, July 10, 2022

Restaurants Hand Held Marketing Missing the Mark


At the intersection of technology and consumers wallet you can find hand held digital marketing on smartphones in the hands of consumers.  There is a battle for those dollars and at the moment it looks as if restaurants are capitulating market share among consumers 18 to 2 years old aka Gen Z consumers.

Regular reader of this blog know Steven Johnson, Grocerant Guru® at Tacoma, WA based Foodservice Solutions® recommends The NPD Group.  Here is another reason why.

According to The NPD Group, in 2019 Gen Z consumers made 218 annual restaurant visits per person in 12 months through February 2022. That number is 66 visits less than their Gen X counterparts in 2002. 

So, historically, the heaviest restaurant usage stage occurs from the ages 18-24, which is currently where the oldest among Gen Zer’s are situated. Two decades ago, when Gen Xers were young adults, they averaged 284 visits per person a year. Millennials, as young adults, were impacted by the Great Recession, causing a cutback in 40 restaurant visits per person a year versus their older Gen X counterparts.

This is important, lets revise this, Gen Z young adults, whose outside recreation, like restaurant visits, was thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic, made 218 annual restaurant visits per person in the 12 months through February 2022, 66 visits less than Gen Xers in 2002.

So, where is the money and attention going? The pandemic isn’t the only factor keeping Gen Zers from restaurants; they have more interests vying for their dollars than previous generations. Apparel, footwear, beauty and technology are among the categories on which young adult Gen Zers spend their money. The report points out that many apparel brands have successfully tapped into Gen Z values, like diversity and empowerment and, as a result, have gained a larger share of their spending.

The increased spending on categories like apparel and overall inflationary pressures have heightened Gen Z’s price sensitivity. Half of the Gen Zers surveyed by NPD for the report said that higher menu prices had impacted their restaurant visits. Price is the most important attribute among consumers 18-24 years old when choosing a restaurant. Student loan debt hasn’t factored into Gen Z spending, but it will in the future.

“Restaurant operators and their manufacturer partners must quickly adapt to how Gen Z consumers think and feel,” said David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor and author of Eating Patterns in America. “An understanding of which menu items to emphasize, the food attributes they seek, menu innovations that appeal to them and their preferred advertising platforms will help you win the favor of this valuable generation.”

Whether in-store or online, Gen Zers are enticed by good deals, according to the 2022 Path to Purchase Institute’s (P2PI) latest research study, "Gen Shopping Habits." In the study 91 percent of respondents identified promotions and sales as impactful, while customer reviews or testimonials, personalized offers, and informative content specific to products were all ranked at 88 percent effective.

Gen Zers are also engaged shoppers. The cohort is drawn to in-store options that are affordable and offer a one-stop shopping experience, referencing Walmart and Target as its favorite destinations for in-store shopping for everyday items. Are you looking a customer ahead?  Just think 66 fewer visits to restaurants.  How many of those missed trips could have been to your restaurant?

Don’t over reach. Are you ready for some fresh ideations? Do your food marketing ideations look more like yesterday than tomorrow? Interested in learning how Foodservice Solutions® can edify your retail food brand while creating a platform for consumer convenient meal participationdifferentiation and individualization?  Email us at: or visit us on our social media sites by clicking the following links: Facebook,  LinkedIn, or Twitter

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