Gen Z Consumers are the Future of QSR

McDonald’s is a leader in the QSR (quick-service restaurant) industry. They’re a multi-faceted brand that offers an array of products for different types of consumers. That includes people that yearn for deals and those that enjoy McDonald’s classics like the iconic Big Mac, McFlurry, Chicken McNuggets and World Famous Fries. McDonald’s success is unparalleled and it’s no surprise they were the highest-grossing QSR of 2018. Despite this milestone, McDonald’s “forgets”, or intentionally chooses not to target Gen Z consumers.

According to Bloomberg, Gen Z is expected to surpass the size of the Baby Boomer and Millennial generations. They are expected to become one of the largest audiences for all marketers. Gen Z consumers prefer to digest digital video media and recommendations from Influencers. Forbes reports that they value and prioritize convenience and expect that from technology. The increased popularity of restaurant apps and order pickup fulfills that expectation.

It’s tricky to advertise to Gen Z consumers. This generation includes people born between 1996 and 2015, making the youngest member 4 years old. By law, companies are not allowed to directly advertise to children below the age of 13 years old. Most brands just exclude teenagers altogether to avoid any legal implications. However, that excludes about half of an important age group — young adults between 18 years old and their early 20s. Every time I visit a McDonald’s, I always see consumers between 14 – 20 without fail.

McDonald’s isn’t in alignment with their entire customer base because they exclude this segment of their consumer population. When they target young adults, they mean Millennials — adults in their mid-20s and 30s. That’s their ideal consumer because they want McDonald’s to remain relevant and cool.

There is a real opportunity with folks younger than that, though. These are the consumers that always flock to McDonald’s and indulge in the value specials and deals. These are the ones that create conversations about McDonald’s online. The next time you see a meme about McDonald’s online, like ones about McDonald’s Sprite being electrifying, click on the user’s profile. It’s more than likely a young adult. Imagine if McDonald’s targeted them; they’d get more revenue in addition to more viral memes. McDonald’s needs to reevaluate their consumers — that’s the key to staying relevant.


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