Flavor Trends, Strategies and Solutions for Menu Development

Publisher’s Page September-October 2018 Welcome to the September-October 2018 issue from Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Cathy Nash Holley

As a teenager, my foodservice experiences were limited to a local pizza joint, an occasional drive-thru, 7-Eleven nachos and the A&W where I worked. On the very rare occasion was I able to enjoy a full-service dining experience with my family.

By contrast, today’s budding Gen Z consumers have access to a vast variety of foodservice options, and they’re nearly fully immersed in the marketplace.

They’ve grown up with the restaurant industry—“foodservice natives” if you will—taking note of the increasing foodie-culture phenomena and accompanying their parents to new restaurant openings, trying new global mash-ups. They’re completely fluent in technology and have specific dietary and/or value-based dining needs and wants. In other words, they know a lot more, share a lot more and demand a lot more for their foodservice dollar. It’s hard to overstate the importance of this new demographic.

In this issue, Katie Ayoub delves into the subtle strategies operators are employing to attract this emerging consumer group. As part of our research on the subject, we wanted to include their voices here, and we didn’t have to look far to find them. You’ll see a handful of “somewhat willing” participants profiled here, our editorial staff’s kids among them, sharing their fresh opinions about their individual foodservice preferences.

What comes across from these anecdotal accounts is the need for value, variety, choice, aesthetics and convenience, and also, flavor. They’re a savvy bunch, these Gen Z’ers, swayed by the appeal of new foodservice experiences, but not taken in by slick, polished efforts to garner their business. They value transparency and honesty. They seek out meaningful connections with brands. Their flavor preferences are still evolving—after all, they’re young and still impressionable.

But their significance in foodservice is huge. As strategies continue to focus on Millennials, savvy brands are also now paying attention to Gen Z, understanding that this emerging demographic is decidedly different, with flavor and dining preferences that are uniquely their own. Brands that actively court Gen Z hold the keys to the future of foodservice.

Cathy Nash Holley

  From the Sept/Oct 2018 issue of Flavor & the Menu magazine. Read stories from the current issue online or check if you qualify for a free print subscription.

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About The Author

Cathy Nash Holley

Cathy Nash Holley has been publisher and editor-in-chief of Flavor & The Menu magazine since it began nearly 18 years ago. Cathy started her publishing career with Diversified Business Communications, where she worked as an editor for Seafood Business and National Fisherman magazines. In 1998, she joined Media Unlimited Inc., to develop Flavor & The Menu, taking over as owner in 2013. In addition to overseeing the magazine, Cathy gives presentations on flavor trends at industry events, and also serves as President of the International Foodservice Editorial Council. Cathy hails from the Oregon Coast, but for the last 20+ years has lived in Maine with her husband Lex and teenage twins. She enjoys travelling, hikes with her dog Freeda and downtime with the family, and good food or drink, especially anything with Mexican flavor profiles and a cocktail with either Mezcal or St-Germain.