The way America eats is always changing. Whether you’re in Atlanta or Austin, New York, NY or Tucker, GA, that is true. With each new generation, the tastes and needs of the public change.

Baby Boomers were the first generation that wanted their food to change to meet their lifestyle. They wanted it to be prepared faster, stay fresh longer, and a consistent experience no matter where they were.

 Generation X took that trend to a whole new level. According to research by the American Public University System’s Department of Hospitality Management, Gen Z families eat out at least once a week. Gen Xers are the Starbucks generation. They want a fun, social atmosphere as well as good food.

Millennials then drastically changed in the way America eat and drink. They crave a connection between their conscious and their nutrition. Rebelling from the processed food of the previous generations, Millennials not only want healthy food, but to know where that healthy food came from and how it was grown or raised. This caused restaurants to “clean up” their menu so they could boast more organic, green, or locally bought ingredients.

Now, as of 2020, Generation Z has passed Millennials as the largest generation. This digital generation has never known a world without social media or smartphones. Plus, the oldest members of this group are just now reaching adulthood, with all the buying power that goes along with it. So, what does the hospitality and food industries need to learn to cater to these new consumers?


 What would the average Gen Zer want if they were thinking of going out for a bite in Atlanta? Well, here are a few trends that you can use to become more Generation Z friendly.

Big Isn’t Always Better

Generation Z tends to shun big, heavy meals. A 2021 Piper Sandler survey of Gen Z teens called them the “snack-focused’ generation. Although these teens and young adults think about food more than previous generations, they’d rather snack throughout the day or have several smaller meals. So, think snacks.

Healthy Food-ish

The same survey asked what snacks the teens craved. Even though half of the Gen Zers surveyed said they wanted healthy food and snacks, only 3% named fruit, vegetables, or nuts for their favorite snacks. Their top snacks were Doritos, Cheetos, Lay’s potato chips, Goldfish, Cheez-Its and Oreos. Nature Valley was the only snack with a healthy halo to make the list. So, can you find a way to merge healthy nutrition with a pinch of these storied brands?

Going Beyond Meat

Plant-based meats get the thumbs up from Gen Z. In a study by American Grocers, 15% of Generation Z said they eat plant-based meat. Another 30% were willing to try it. And only 20% said they will never give up their steak. There are also more vegetarians and pescatarians in Gen Z than in any other generation before.


Trying new flavors, styles, and ethnic foods is unique to Gen Z’s eating habits. They especially show a love for street food. Yet, even while searching for new flavors, they’re nutrition conscious. To tap into this opportunity, Kashi, Coca-Cola, and PepsiCo have launched new products with unusual new flavors but minus sugar or artificial flavors. Follow their lead and hopefully you’ll profit.

With A Twist

Generation Z still loves the classics: burgers, pizza, tacos, and pastas. But what they’re looking for is a twist. Unique sauces get their attention. They are tempted by different spice levels. Fusion foods are usually a hit


According to a study by Field Agent, these teens and young adults are letting go of the apron strings and putting on their own. 78% of Gen Z cook. While Millennials love to get a selfie out at dinner, Generation Z prefer to stay in. They turn on the YouTube tutorials, fire-up the air-fryer and get their hands dirty. They will value anyone that can help them own the experience with cool ingredients or new recipes.

Market to their mouths

Unlike previous generations, it’s not the dining experience but the gastronomic experience Generation Z craves. As we said before, they like to get take-out and stay in. Online ordering has become Generation Z’s best friend and that’s not changing. So, lean in and serve them to go.


Entrepreneurs that want to market to this next generation will have to do more than change their menu. This tech savvy group get most of their information online and especially on social media. Different studies have found that Generation Z spends 4-7 hours online a day. They tend to shy away from Facebook and focus on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr and TikTok.

They are likely to live blog or live tweet experiences and spread the word about deals, news-worthy items, or anything they find funny. Entrepreneurs who give them a great special to talk about or a super indulgent experience will grab their attention and their followers feed.

They also use touchscreens more than any other tech, so creating webpages that are easy to swipe will benefit businesses. A touch screen experience at the counter, in the restaurant or when ordering take-out is also a good investment.


Understanding the customers’ wants and needs is important for any business. That knowledge can help you understand how better to communicate, hire, operate and sell to them. As Generation Z continues to gain relevance in the marketplace, it will be interesting to see how big brands and small entrepreneurs alike capture their attention and their dollars.

If you’re interested in learning about how you can grow and reach new audiences, contact Prep and see how we can help you grow your food business.