The oldest of Generation Z will be 22 years old this year and they are just beginning to make their mark on dining out and eating trends, finds The NPD Group, which tracks on a daily basis all aspects of how consumers eat. Gen Zs made 14.6 billion restaurant visits in 2018 and now represent 10% of total foodservice traffic. A large percentage of this generational group have been raised to put a greater emphasis on the quality of food, whether it's clean, fresh, or nutritionally beneficial, as well as its flavor and function. Their attitudes and behaviors about the foods they consume are now being reflected across grocery shelves and cases.
Growing up with a focus on the flavor and function of food rather than brand will make Gen Zs more challenging for food marketers to reach. For example, regardless of the brand, for Generation Z, if they can't take a snack with them, it's not really a snack. Portability is the benefit they value the most when choosing a snack, according to NPD's recently released The Future of Snacking report. They expect functionality as well with added nutrients and health benefits that will replenish their bodies throughout the day.
When it comes to using restaurants, like Millennials, Gen Zs are frequent visitors of fast casual restaurants and traditional quick service restaurants. Being the first generation never knowing a world without the internet or technology, they are regular users of restaurant apps and delivery, finds NPD's Delivering Digital Convenience report. In the year ending December 2018, foodservice delivery orders by Gen Zs amounted to 552 million, just a million shy of Millennials' delivery orders and only a portion of Gen Zs are old enough to order their own delivery. They are also heavy users of restaurant tablets and order kiosks.
"Gen Zs can FaceTime their friends, text their moms, and order a pizza all at the same time," says David Portalatin, NPD food industry advisor. "Although we're just getting a peek at what Gen Zs will bring to our culture, economy, and society, this generation will be a seismic force as they emerge into adulthood under more prosperous economic circumstances, yet with their own differentiating set of values."