The Hershey Co.’s foodservice team conducted custom research through The Center for Generational Kinetics, Austin, Texas, to understand perceptions, influence and loyalty of branded products with Millennial and Gen Z decision-makers in foodservice operations.

Gen Z and Millennial consumers rank dessert as a top consideration when deciding where to go for food. Highlights from the research 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.

Social media plays a significant role in getting the attention of Gen Z consumers. Case in point: 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, Hershey, Pa. “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.”