US The Gen Z Diner Market Report 2021
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“Gen Z is a generation with great influence, both financially and culturally, despite being a smaller group compared to Millennials and Baby Boomers. Teens already have great influence over where…

US The Gen Z Diner Market Report 2021

£ 3,695 (Excl.Tax)


“Gen Z is a generation with great influence, both financially and culturally, despite being a smaller group compared to Millennials and Baby Boomers. Teens already have great influence over where they eat with their family and friends, which shows that restaurants need to connect with Gen Z early on. As they mature, Gen Z adults have more autonomy over their meal choices and make more executive decisions for themselves. For restaurants, using social media and technology will be key in reaching Gen Z and encouraging restaurant loyalty.”
– Katie Hansen, Retail & eCommerce Analyst

This Report looks at the following areas

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and Gen Z dining habits.
  • Restaurant occasions driving Gen Z teen and adults visitation.
  • Reasons Gen Z teens and adults select one restaurant over another.
  • The importance of social media in restaurant discovery and visitation.

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • This Report looks at the following areas
    • Definition
    • Market context
    • Economic and other assumptions
    • COVID-19: US context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Market overview
      • Figure 1: Population by generation, 2021
    • Impact of COVID-19 on Gen Z
      • Figure 2: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on Gen Z, September 2021
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Demonstrate commitment to sustainability and DEI initiatives
      • Figure 3: Attitudes toward dining out – CSR initiatives, 2021
    • Use different meal occasions to target Gen Z teens and adults separately
      • Figure 4: Order frequency and occasion, 2021
    • Connect with group influencers to drive restaurant visitation
      • Figure 5: Restaurant decision maker, 2021
    • Use social media to connect with Gen Z
      • Figure 6: Social media interaction interest, 2021
  3. Gen Z by the Numbers – Key Takeaways

    • Gen Z members are small(er) but mighty
    • Gen Z teens enjoy a hot employed summer
    • Gen Zs are stressed out
    • Gen Z pays attention to Mother Earth
  4. Gen Z by the Numbers

    • Gen Z: prominent and diverse
      • Figure 7: Population by generation, 2021
      • Figure 8: Distribution of generations by race and Hispanic origin, 2021
      • Figure 9: Population by generation, 2016-26
      • Figure 10: Median household income, by age of householder, 2019
    • Gen Z’s online and offline lives blend together
      • Figure 11: Social media usage, at least daily
    • Impact of COVID-19 on Gen Z
  5. Market Factors

    • Improving employment options improves Gen Z’s spending power
      • Figure 12: Unemployment rate – 16-19 years, percent, monthly, seasonally adjusted, January 1948-June 2021
    • Gen Z prioritize health and wellness – especially for stress
    • Sustainability, DEI initiatives impact where Gen Z spends their dining dollars
      • Figure 13: Too Good to Go helps fight food waste
  6. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Cater to Gen Z with experiences
    • Celebrity fast food partnerships are an easy way to connect with Gen Z
    • Leverage social to connect with digitally native Gen Z
    • Restaurant-branded apparel lines let Gen Z wear their brand love on their sleeves
  7. Competitive Strategies

    • Chipotle caters to Gen Z with experiences
    • Taco Bell teams up with Lil Nas X for menu innovations, giveback initiatives
      • Figure 14: Lil Nas X and Taco Bell partnership, 2021
    • McDonald’s offers Saweet(ie) meal options
      • Figure 15: McDonald’s and Saweetie collaboration, 2021
  8. Market Opportunities

    • Social media allows brands to connect, surprise consumers
    • Starbucks uses social to offer new ordering capabilities
    • The TikTok revolution allows teens to share ideas, inspiration
      • Figure 16: TikTok Chick-fil-A hacks
      • Figure 17: Applebee’s taps into “Fancy Like” on TikTok
    • Tech innovations lead to better, personalized services
    • Partnerships let diners wear their restaurant love on their sleeves
      • Figure 18: Panera Bread swim line, 2021
  9. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Teens need value; adults want more experiences
    • Capture the value of at-home occasions with adults
    • Gen Z wields influence over where to eat
    • Adult and teen lifestyles require different meal occasions from restaurants
    • Social media remains a key area to connect with diners
  10. Restaurants Ordered From

    • Teens seek out budget options; adults look for elevated experiences
      • Figure 19: Restaurants ordered from, 2021
    • Give Gen Z teen girls a place to gather
      • Figure 20: Restaurants ordered from, teens by gender, 2021
    • Gen Z adults, especially women, want to explore the food options available
      • Figure 21: Restaurants ordered from, adults by gender, 2021
    • Convenience drives teens; adults have more independent choice
      • Figure 22: Restaurant ordering method, 2021
    • Provide delivery access to teens; connect early with adults
      • Figure 23: Restaurant ordering method, by location, 2021
  11. Important Restaurant Factors

    • Teens seek value; adults want an experience
      • Figure 24: Important factors when dining, 2021
    • Connect on service with male teens; leverage value for female adults
      • Figure 25: Noodles loyalty program, 2021
      • Figure 26: Important factors when dining, by gender, 2021
    • Remind Gen Z teens and adults of the benefits of at-home restaurant options
      • Figure 27: Dominos offers freebie with online orders, 2021
      • Figure 28: Importance of at-home options, 2021
  12. Restaurant Visitation Drivers and Influences

    • Gen Z adults and teens hold influence over where to eat
      • Figure 29: TGI Friday’s Global bar crawl menu, 2021
      • Figure 30: Restaurant decision maker, 2021
    • Restaurants need to influence the group influencers
      • Figure 31: Restaurant decision maker, by race, 2021
    • Provide nudges around mealtimes, special occasions
      • Figure 32: Reasons to go to restaurants, 2021
    • Serve up eats and entertainment to suburban Gen Zs
      • Figure 33: Reasons to go to restaurants, by location, 2021
  13. Restaurant Occasions and Frequency

    • Drive dinner with adults, lean into lunch with teens
      • Figure 34: Order frequency and occasion, 2021
    • Connect digitally with urban teens for a variety of meal occasions
      • Figure 35: Order frequency and occasion, teens by location, 2021
    • Win Hispanic Gen Z adults with healthier snacking options
      • Figure 36: Starbucks protein breakfast wrap, 2021
      • Figure 37: Order frequency and occasion, adults by Hispanic ethnicity, 2021
  14. Role of Social Media

    • Use social media to drive discovery, urgency and deliver discounts
      • Figure 38: Social media interaction interest, 2021
    • Gen Z adult males want a voice; females want search opportunities
      • Figure 39: Social media interaction interest, by gender, 2021
  15. Attitudes Toward Dining Out

    • Drive restaurant visitation with exclusive experiences
      • Figure 40: Attitudes toward dining out – Restaurant extras, 2021
    • Ease anxiety in a pandemic world
      • Figure 41: Attitudes toward dining out – Impact of pandemic, 2021
    • Build trust and loyalty with Gen Z through CSR initiatives
      • Figure 42: Culvers partners with USO, 2021
      • Figure 43: Attitudes toward dining out – CSR initiatives, 2021
  16. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Consumer survey data
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
    • Terms

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