How Restaurants, Bars and Cafes Can Market to Gen Z

Young people born between 1995 and 2005 make up a growing percentage of consumers. Get to grips with marketing to Gen Z with this helpful guide.

Kids these days! They’re always on their phones, making fun of Baby Boomers and doing strange, complicated dances they learned on the internet.

However, they also represent a growing consumer market with very different values, interests and ideals to those embraced by generations before them.

Mastering marketing to Millenials is no longer the be-all and end-all of youth marketing. With the rise in popularity of youth-centric technology like TikTok, Fortnite and VSCO, companies across all industries need to think seriously about appealing to the younger generation.

Who are Gen Z?

Generation Z is the term given to anyone born between 1995 and 2015. That’s the only requirement.

Unlike Millenials, Gen Z is less preoccupied with avocados and more interested in social change, technology and immediacy. This generation is made up of tech natives who grew up with smartphones, tablets and laptops at their fingertips.

So, why should hospitality businesses care about Gen Z? According to a report by CNBC, teenagers are now spending more money on food than clothing. In fact, they spend between 21 and 24% of their cash on food.

Did you know Gen Z are responsible for up to 40 percent of consumer spending? This figure is only set to grow in years to come, as more young consumers start to earn their own income and have more spending power.

Now you’re convinced the youth market is worth catering for, read on for five pointers on marketing hospitality businesses to Gen Z.

1. Have a Strong Digital Presence

Gen Z grew up with technology. Unlike Millenials, they know nothing of dial-up internet connections or Nokia 3310 phones. This is a generation who expect digital excellence, and nothing less. After all, many of them are able to design, create and code quality websites, so why shouldn’t you?

This tech-savvy generation expects to find information quickly and easily, even more so than previous generations. If your menu, online ordering options or location isn’t clearly accessible in a few quick clicks, they should be. Optimise your website with the best user experience in mind.

With the ease of accessibility in mind, making online ordering as streamlined as possible with a restaurant POS and mobile payment capability will also appeal to the youth market. Make every transaction as straightforward as a swipe, tap or a click.

Gen Z is more likely to forget their wallet than they are their phone. Make your hospitality business as mobile-friendly as possible – consider releasing an app or mobile loyalty card to give young consumers a reason to keep coming back to your business.

2. Focus on Social Media

This one might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning. Making your restaurant, bar or cafe appealing to Gen Z on social media will differ to marketing strategies used for older generations.

65% of Gen Z-ers use Instagram daily, with 51% using Snapchat and 62% browsing YouTube. By comparison, only 34% will visit Facebook on a daily basis, and 23% will do so with Twitter.

Meanwhile, the popularity of TikTok continues to rise among the youth generation, with 40% of its users falling into the 16-24 age bracket.

As demonstrated by the popularity of video-streaming apps, Gen Z prefer steaming bite-sized visual media. Quick, simple and easy-to-watch video clips showing something like how to whip up a new recipe or shake a perfect cocktail will appeal more to Gen Z than a static image would. Striking imagery mixed with music, sound effects and onscreen text have proved to be a recipe for success for marketing to Gen Z so far.

Getting Gen Z to interact with your social content is a surefire way to capture their attention. A light-hearted poll on Instagram is a good way get customers interacting with your business. Run a burger restaurant? Have your followers vote on the greatest condiment of all time. Make use of features like stickers, sliders and swipe ups – the more people can interact with your content, the better.

3. Be Inclusive

In 2020, your business should be inclusive. Show off your company’s values by celebrating your company’s diversity. Gen Z aren’t interested in seeing homogenous white, straight, cis male figures in advertising. In fact, fail to include minority groups and your business may risk a social media shaming from this generation.

Gen Z are big on influencers, particularly those who feel accessible and relatable. For a hospitatlity business, finding an influencer to appeal to a Gen Z audience will be less about securing a big celebrity name and more about finding someone the audience can relate to.

An influencer with a smaller following who responds to followers and can explain the appeal of your products is far more desirable. Choose influencers who show off your commitment to inclusivity.

4. Create an Experience

Experiences appeal to Gen Z, especially those they can share with friends. Having space to share a dining experience with others is a key element in deciding where to spend their cash.

Gen Z prefers face-to-face interaction above all else, so ideally your business will creating an inshore dining experience people will enjoy with friends and share on social media.

Like Millenials, Gen Z suffers from FOMO and would like to be in on the action everyone else is enjoying on social media. Encouraging customers to share user-generated content – for example, snapping a picture of their meal in order to be entered into a competition – shows other potential diners what a great experience your business provides.

5. Be Authentic

Gen Z-ers can easily sniff out a lie or an inaccuracy. A quick question aimed at Siri, Alexa or Google gives them access to limitless information, so they are incredibly quick to find and expose mistruths. The youth market wants to support brands who are fun, cool and authentic.

Show off your brand’s sense of humour on social media – don’t be afraid to embrace memes, show the humans behind your business and share a joke with your customers. Young people are more likely to be receptive to brands whose interactions don’t sound like they’re coming from a suit-and-tie.

Instagram stories and live video streaming are great ways to show a more relaxed side to your business. After all, these are only viewable for 24 hours, so the stakes are lower. A quick video showing off your chef’s latest dessert only takes a few seconds and can be uploaded to Instagram stories right away.


Marketing to young people might require a few new strategies, but businesses of any kind can appeal to Gen Z – not just ‘cool’ and ‘hip’ brands. Focus on visual content, show off your brand’s inclusivity and build a strong online presence for success with Gen Z.

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