If you're not marketing to college students, you could be missing out on a big profit opportunity. Datassential, a food industry market research company recently concluded that 58% of college students eat at an off-campus quick-serve establishment at least once a week. Out of these students, 56% choose a fast-casual option.
If your restaurant is located a short distance from a college or university, you should consider offering affordable dining options centered specifically around 18-22 year-olds. But how do you reach this mysterious generation? Luckily, data organization Vision Critical and research firm Maru/Matchbox partnered together to study this age group. Their findings revealed that Generation Z is a highly value-driven generation.
Gen Z students take price and nutrition into consideration when choosing restaurants. Specifically, 67 percent of Gen Zers consider the nutritional content of their food before making a purchase, but the food's price stands as the primary influencing factor.
By creating meals with fewer ingredients, you can cut down on both price and calories at the same time.
College students pursuing fitness goals often appreciate nutrition information, and most value transparency. By listing calorie info and ingredients online, or on your to-go menu, you can build a loyal and trusting relationship with your younger patrons.
The best way to offer transparency is labeling your menu. Of course, determining calorie count for a unique dish is a complex process, but it’s worth the effort. Consider purchasing FDA-compliant software like MenuCalc to quickly determine calorie counts. This software can also provide additional nutritional information.
Alternatively, you can hire a dietician or nutritionist to calculate the calorie count and nutrition information for your establishment. With a large menu, it can feel daunting to translate all the offerings. Try creating a special menu of healthy options and feature 5-10 low calorie, nutritious choices, and include complete information for just those specific dishes.
These days, special diets are becoming more common, but you can use this to your advantage. By offering a small Whole 30, Keto, or Vegan menu, you can attract college students looking for a convenient meal that will still help them maintain their fitness goals.
Health-conscious Gen Zers desire menu options that fit their dietary needs, so it is a good idea to offer dishes free from some of the top allergens like dairy, gluten, and soy.
Consider creating an icon on your menu so these patrons can quickly identify which dishes are gluten, dairy, or soy-free.
Create ways to quickly communicate that you offer both healthy and affordable options. Use table tents, posters, and signage to draw awareness to nutritious features on your menu. Perhaps you don’t need to create new healthy dishes designed for college students. Chances are, you’re already offering healthy and affordable options on your current menu. You just need to guide college students to these options, so giving customers the tools to find them is very important.
The College & University Keynote Report also discovered that 49% of college students identify as "foodies." This generation grew up watching cooking shows and streaming programs like The Great British Baking Show and Chef's Table.
So how do you attract these culinary-loving young clients? It goes back to communication. Get creative with your menu's dish descriptions. Explicitly detail what makes each dish unique. For example, if you're using local bread to make your sandwiches, make sure to emphasize this feature.
Foodies eat with their eyes first, so presentation is key. Even if you're offering fast-casual food, you can still discover creative ways to plate and present your dishes.
Simply throwing a few edible flowers on top of a salad or investing in beautiful disposable wood silverware can go a long way.
Another way to attract foodies is to incorporate bold flavors in your food. Don't be afraid to sprinkle some pickled red onions or house made sauerkraut on top of a sandwich. Experiment with current flavor trends and you could be surprised by what your young patrons share on social media.
Before committing to a new menu addition, you can test it out by adding it as a limited time offer to gauge popularity. When a college student orders the item, make it a point to visit with the patron and get feedback. Better yet, host a focus group to discuss. Word on the street is that college students will do nearly anything for good, free food.
Source: College & University Keynote Report