The Hershey Company’s Foodservice team, one of the industry’s leading branded sweet ingredient, snack and refreshment suppliers, conducted custom research through The Center for Generational Kinetics. The findings uncover perceptions, influence and loyalty of branded products with Millennial and Gen Z decision-making in foodservice operations. The research uncovered the branded dessert opportunity among these specific consumers.

Quality desserts attract younger generations. In fact, Gen Z and Millennial consumers are dessert obsessed and rank dessert as a top consideration when deciding where to go for food. Highlights from the research (Source: Hershey proprietary research, The Center for Generational Kinetics, fielded/developed/reported: Oct. ’17 – Jan. ’18) include:

  • 87% think about eating dessert one or more times a day
  • 76% think dessert is essential to special occasions
  • 47% have a restaurant they frequent just for dessert
  • 55% of Gen Z and 54% of Millennials are more likely to order an item with branded ingredients they recognize
  • 52% of Gen Z are more likely to order an item with a branded ingredient they ate as a child
  • 70% of Gen Z and 63% of Millennials are likely to return to a restaurant where they enjoyed a Hershey branded dessert to order another, and more than half believe a dessert is higher quality if it has Hershey ingredients, which results in a willingness to pay a premium.

Social media plays a significant role in getting the attention of Gen Z consumers who respond to ads along with sharing and “liking” desserts through multiple platforms. Gen Z loves to share its sweet tooth on social media, and desserts are the No.1 food they photograph. In fact, 46% have a picture of a dessert on their phone right now. Ads featuring branded desserts get their attention as do food videos on YouTube and photos on Instagram and Snapchat.

“We were excited to partner with Hershey Foodservice on this research,” says Jason Dorsey, president of The Center for Generational Kinetics. “We see across generations that people have a strong affinity for their favorite brands from childhood. The research confirms how the use of branded ingredients in desserts can drive foodservice sales with this important segment of U.S. consumers.”

“This research is great news for foodservice operators,” adds Chef Darren Belnavis, Hershey Foodservice. “There are so many ways to offer on-trend beverages, snacks, desserts and craft cocktails featuring branded Hershey ingredients. For example, operators can create smoothies or indulgent milkshakes with Instagrammable ingredients, offer shareable desserts that allow patrons to taste more than one brand and are portable to take on the go for a mid-afternoon snack.”

All this adds up to opportunity for operators to generate interest and purchase intent with Gen Z and Millennial audiences via branded dessert menu items.

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