Eating-out businesses must meet demands of digital natives

By Daniel Woolfson

- Last updated on GMT

Eating-out businesses must meet demands of digital natives

Related tags Publican’s morning Marketing

Eating-out businesses need to adapt their marketing to attract the youngest 'Generation Z' consumers, a leading hospitality marketing expert has warned. 

Speaking at London trade show Hotelympia​, Karen Fewell of Digital Blonde told the Publican’s Morning Advertiser​ operators need to consider expanding their offer for consumers aged 13 to 21, who may not treat hospitality businesses the same way as older generations.

She said: "We may not necessarily be able to keep the industry the way it has been all these years because digital natives are very different people.

"Many of them are looking for brands that actually do something for them – they recognise when somebody is selling to them and they actually care about the future and their place in the world."

More than an experience

She added: "They're looking for brands that are looking to support them and the world, and I don't think this is necessarily a strong point of the hospitality industry – it's probably something we need to look at more as to how we can actually help people more than just giving them an experience."

Research by Technomic reported 68% of Generation Z consumers and 73% of older Generation Z consumers already ate out at least once a week.

Some 54% of Generation Z respondents placed the highest importance on fast service when dining out.

The Publican’s Morning Advertiser recently reported​ that the generation were looking increasingly to pubs as places to study, meet friends or escape from their parents rather than places to consume alcohol and food. 

"We have to accept, as an industry, that behaviour is changing,” said Fewell.

Adapt to demands

"Bringing people together in more of a work scenario might be one solution, or a pub hosting a particular club for a sport. We've seen that for years but, maybe, we need to make more of it – I think, maybe, we should be looking at alternative ways to get people in."

Operators struggling to adapt to the marketing demands of Generation Z could consider meeting up with similar operators and sharing strategies and experiences, she said.

"One of the challenges we have as hospitality businesses is that we are normally very small teams, sometimes with only one person doing marketing, or sometimes it's just an additional part of the job.

"I would encourage [operators] to form small communities and groups to actually learn from each other."

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