The younger generations are fundamentally changing the way Americans eat. Millennials and Generation Z are two of the largest living generations, and even their passing whims have a lasting impact on consumer trends. Learn more about the unique needs of these guests to make sure that your restaurant will be profitable for many years to come.

 

Millennial Mores

Millennial diners are redefining what it means to be “healthy.” They are less concerned about fat, and more concerned about sugar, than older generations. 47% of these consumers say animal protein is healthy – which makes them ideal candidates for keto or paleo diets. They’re focusing in on vegetables and meats, while avoiding sugar, carbs, and processed food as much as possible.

These young adults are also obsessed with snacking. What does a snack look like for a person who avoids processed food and carbs? Cheez-Its are out, and leftovers are in. In fact, 15% of sides ordered by 18-34-year-olds are eaten as snacks. In light of this trend, it’s no surprise that Millennials love to customize their meals. As the first generation that grew up with the internet, these eaters feel entitled to make their own choices about everything – from the meaning of “health”, to which kind of olives go on their salad.

Millennials love to order takeout, relying on food delivery more than any other generation. As this generation continues to settle down and start families, you can expect this trend to continue. Make sure your restaurant is easy to find on Google, Yelp, and social media sites so you can appeal to Millennial diners from anywhere.

 

Catch Some Zs

Generation Z is extremely diverse, even by American standards. Nearly 50% of these consumers are non-Caucasion, compared to just 28% of Baby Boomers. “Gen Z’s diversity will continue to drive food culture trends we already see around the exploration of authentic, global food experiences, and the impacts of this diversity are going to include how they eat,” says Melissa Abbott, VP of culinary insights at the Hartman Group.

When it comes to retail, Gen Z consumers prefer to shop in-store. They are more likely to walk into your restaurant than their Millennial counterparts – but they still use delivery more than Gen Xers or Boomers. These guests are focused on choice – whether it’s picking a restaurant, choosing a table, or customizing an order. Perhaps inspired by Millennials, Gen Z diners will usually choose the healthier option, especially when it comes to beverages. Make sure you stock sparkling water, organic soda, or a locally sourced tea when courting these customers.

 

Tech Trends

While each generation is certainly unique, Millennials and Gen Zers have more in common with each other than they do with older consumers. Most notably, these are the first two generations in history that grew up with ready access to the internet. They have always relied on technology, and they are used to being constantly flooded with more information than they need. As a result, these consumers expect transparency, especially when it comes to the ingredients in their food. They feel entitled to control their own experiences, and they are experts in their own tastes. Thanks to shows like Parts Unknown, these diners have a wider understanding of global flavors than their parents’ generations did, and they expect your restaurant to serve up the variety they crave.

It’s increasingly vital for restaurants to implement the technology these younger guests expect. They will almost certainly look you up online before ever ordering your cuisine, and they expect you to remember their order when they come in a second time. Using a powerful Point of Sale system impresses these guests, and empowers you to keep up with their changing tastes.