What if you could go back in time and invest in the early days of computing, the internet, or smartphones? With what we know now about those technologies, that question is a no-brainer. You’d invest any amount of money you could and borrow as much as possible to invest more!

Part of being a savvy business person is being able to spot market shifts and move your business in the right direction. So, what do you know about Generation Z, and what are you going to do about it?

Generation Z, or Gen Z, are Americans born between 1998 and 2016. This group includes more than 83 million people and is on track to become the largest group of consumers. But their habits are pretty unique, so how can you adapt your service for the new generation? Let’s look at what we know about them.

They are digital natives

More than any other generation, Gen Z lives in technology. Consider what Wikia discovered in a survey performed on teens 13-18 years old.

  1. All (100%) of Gen Z are connected to technology for 1+ hours per day, but about half (46%) are connected 10+ hours per day.
  2. One-in-four (25%) are actively connected (checking email, messages, etc.) within five minutes of waking up, while nearly three-in-four (73%) are connected in an hour or less.

It’s obvious that the digital world is the key to connecting with Gen Z. As a franchise owner, strive to create a digital connection between your restaurant and your customers. It’s important to be creative, so look for ways customers are already connecting digitally, and research what your competitors are doing. For example, some QSRs are engaging their audience through in-app games, text-message promotions, and social media.

Another thing to keep in mind is that people want things now and with less friction. When we say friction, we don’t mean there’s something wrong with your service. We mean people want to order and pick-up food with minimal human interaction and maximum efficiency. In fact, it’s become one of Gen Z’s expectations. And the increase in these types of services means that expectation continues to grow stronger every day.

Great examples of companies embracing the digital age and the instant gratification mentality:

  1. Applebee’s
  2. Chipotle
  3. Buffalo Wild Wings

Health conscious and socially aware

It seems, more than ever before, the younger generation wants to know what’s in their food. Almost half of Generation Z claims they’re willing to pay more for food that’s healthier and ethically sourced. So, how can you take advantage of this health-conscious trend in your QSR?

Take a lesson from the local, natural food store and show people where their food comes from. Transitioning towards healthy food options and being transparent about how you source your food is a great way to show customers you care about their preferences. Add that information to your app and online, and you’re proving to customers that you not only care about the food you’re serving, but you have an online presence, too.

Careful with their money

Generation Z has grown up in turbulent financial times. Watching their families struggle through the Great Recession, perhaps experiencing a parent being laid off or even losing a home, has made this generation more careful with their money.

Be cognizant of this, and provide Gen Z-friendly options that are low-cost. It doesn’t need to be a full meal but maybe some affordable snacks.

Use data to drive your franchise into the future

While you might be able to easily adapt your restaurant to some of these trends, others might be out of your reach at the moment. Don’t worry, these aren’t the only trends you can leverage for business success. If you use smart restaurant reporting tools, it’s possible to find regional customer trends that may be even more useful for your restaurants.

Smart data reporting can help you optimize on a store-by-store basis. Is one restaurant struggling to sell a certain menu item? Do people use your mobile app more in a certain region? Is this a business or residential district? Comparing your data with questions like these can provide you with new strategies that help you grow your franchise faster and smarter.

Learn how one Pizza Hut franchisor saved 3 hours per day with Delaget Stats

Don’t stagnate, innovate!

The only way your business will stagnate is if you’re standing still. Testing out the market on a small scale will give you valuable insights that help you make decisions for your franchise as a whole. Pay attention to market trends and use customer data to inform your decisions. Then, you won’t find yourself trying to catch up when trends become the only way to successfully run your business.

Do you need help gathering valuable data on your customers? Delaget can help you gather data, find insights, and run smarter restaurants.

Download the ebook, '7 metrics that matter to restaurant owners,' and discover how measuring the right data can save you time and money