• Pricing

5 Secrets to Winning Over ‘Zoomer’ Consumers

Picture of Jenny Day
Jenny Day
Share this

This article was written by The Food Institute and features perspective from Morgan Harris, Co-Founder and Chief Customer Advocate at Restaurant365 .

At the recent Future Menus 2023 – a gathering of menu innovators from around the world – emerging food trends were discussed. This year, it was all about offering “arm candy”, as well as appealing to the “Zoomer” contingent.

Zoomers, aka Generation Z, were born in the late 1990s or early 21st century and have become an all-important demographic for any restaurant hoping to maintain relevancy. This up-and-coming generation is going out to eat and looking for something unique.

At the conference, one of the hottest trends mentioned was providing “arm candy” to appeal to customers like Zoomers, according to Restaurant Business.  Arm candy is considered eye-catching beverages or hand-held foods that provide a dash of sizzle. For Zoomers, it’s all about social media and what foods and drinks will garner more “likes” and, because of this, restaurants need to think about what they can add to their menus to serve as arm candy.

What else can restaurants do to appeal to Zoomers? The Food Institute spoke to a few experts that weighed in on this group.

What else can restaurants do to appeal to Zoomers? The Food Institute spoke to a few experts that weighed in on this group.

Offer a Unique Dining Experience

Gen Z has had consistent exposure to the internet and social media, which has given them extensive insight into trends and culture, said Morgan Harris, Restaurant365 co-founder.

“From trying new flavor profiles to learning sustainable farm-to-table meals, it can be inexpensive and easy for restaurant operators to experiment with these trends – without abandoning customer favorites,” Harris said. “Operators can test out local organic produce or farm-raised meats as specials on temporary, seasonal menus to gauge interest and test profitability without having to commit to updating the original, fan-favorite menu.”

Customization is Key

Mike O’Hanlon, chief partnership officer at ezCater, said that Zoomers want to be able to pick what’s going into their plate in order to fit their dietary needs and preferences.

That’s why bowls are becoming increasingly popular. We saw the rise of bowl meals in 2022 with big names like Papa Johns offering all-in-one dishes, but even more restaurants are planning to expand into the space this year,” O’Hanlon noted.

“Based on the conversations we’re having with our ezCater restaurant partners, we’ll continue to see a large variety of cuisines transform into bowl options – some that you might not expect.”

Be Mobile Friendly

Gen Z is most likely to choose to dine at a restaurant based on online suggestions and recommendations, meaning operators should prioritize having a search engine optimized and mobile-friendly website, Harris noted. Websites that aren’t optimized for search engines have a lower chance of landing near the top of an online search, meaning most consumers will never see it. Harris said to consider precise title tags, meta descriptions, and headers on your restaurant’s website because it will help search engines easily find and share locations, menus, and ordering options.

Take an Environmental Stand

“Gen Z is one of the most socially-conscious generations, expecting brands to authentically take a stand on both social and environmental issues,” Harris said.

“Restaurant operators should actively promote how their brand supports organic, sustainable, or plant-based menu options,” the industry insider added. “Restaurants should share specific practices for food waste, water use, and paper waste reduction on their website, social media, and menu. This will attract and retain customers who look to support similar efforts.”

Do it for the ‘Gram

Because Zoomers are all about social media, restaurants that have Instagram appeal will have a leg up. Take Sexy Fish, a London and Miami restaurant, for example. It has a recognizable backdrop that Zoomers can take photos in front of, which is a huge draw for influencers.

“If you trawl through the #sexyfishmiami hashtag on Instagram, you’ll see a plethora of perfectly posed influencers in front of the iconic pink garish women’s bathroom in Miami, or the golden washroom of #sexyfishlondon,” Sam Cooper, contributor to Find a Restaurant, said.

“For restaurants looking to attract the Instagram generation, pay attention to having an area out of the way of the hustle and bustle. Create a stylish, memorable backdrop, and make sure the lighting is sympathetic to taking pictures,” Cooper suggested.