Designing for Generation Z

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The oldest members of Generation Z are barely out of high school, yet it is their consumer habits that will soon begin to drive business decisions. We’ve considered how this group of tech-savvy, globally minded youth will affect our restaurant clients who are considering opening new locations and concepts. One thing is clear: restaurant owners need to prepare for the next generation of patrons.

To create a concept, atmosphere, and style that appeal to the next generation of diners, we must start with a thorough understanding of what makes the Gen Z customer tick. We’ve compiled some tips below that will help when considering the design of a forward-thinking restaurant experience.

1. Adopt an anti-style: Don’t bother trying to label Gen-Zers or fit them into a stereotype in order to choose a concept that you think will attract them. This group proudly embraces many kinds of differences – such as cultural, sexual, religious, political and geographical. Restaurants – no matter what concept – should have the ability to be personalized and strive to make sure everyone can feel comfortable being his- or herself in the environment.

2. Grab their attention: Growing up in the digital age, the surplus of technology and information leaves Gen-Zers with plenty to keep them occupied. So much so, that the latest studies indicate an average attention span of only 8 seconds. If you haven’t grabbed them in that critical 8 seconds, you’ve lost them. As a result, spaces need to grab guests on first glance with bold impactful statements. Everything from the interior design to the graphics to the landscaping to the menu needs to ‘pop’ and convey the overall atmosphere of the space in a quick digestible breath.

3. Create opportunities for shared experiences: Most Gen-Zers are particularly interested in meeting new people. A smart restaurateur will consider all the possible ways that the design and concept can facilitate organic interaction among guests. For example, create a waiting experience that is unique in some way – consider incorporating pop-up entertainment or a rotating art gallery under the same roof. 

As part of the emphasis on shared experiences, it’s also important to recognize how likely it is for a reservation for three to turn into a table for six. The layouts and space plans of forward-thinking restaurant concepts are exceptionally adept at accommodating large, unplanned groups.

4. Adopt New Technology: Finally, we all know that Gen-Zers are digital natives. They’re accustomed to using several screens at once, and they adapt quickly to new technology, especially when it offers an enhanced environment. Consider the introduction of a new ordering or seating system that would reduce wait times and increase efficiencies. Gen Z was born for it, and would certainly put it to good use.