Piper Sandler Survey of teens shows Chick-fil-A is their favorite

Piper Sandler’s annual Taking Stock with Teens survey came out Thursday and was packed with information about late Gen Z that brands want to know.

First, which restaurant brands are dominating the youth? Well, Chick-fil-A took first place in another age group.

Popular with Millennials and Gen Xers, Atlanta’s Chick-fil-A — ranked number one in the annual report of the American Consumer Index Satisfaction Restaurant Study for the eighth straight year — has been testing various drive-thru and delivery strategies lately.

This includes a cellphone-only lane at over 60 locations. Initial tests showed increased service speed and autonomous vehicles in multiple cities for delivery options. The Chick-fil-A-Drive-Thru, notorious for its speed, has been hampered by volume in recent years. A California town that almost had the local Chick-fil-A was declared a public nuisance earlier this year over its busy drive-thru lane.

The other chains that ranked in the top 5 most popular brands among teenagers were Starbucks, Chipotle Mexican Grill, McDonald’s and Olive Garden. Darden Brands restaurant, which recently brought back its endless pasta menu, was the only full-service chain to make the list.

For men with higher incomes and an average age of 15.8 years, food was the number one spending area with a market share of 23%. For young women, it was clothing.

Despite big, flashy debuts on the market and quiet returns to the drawing board after first tries, plant-based meat could be on the way out — at least according to teenagers. Of the 14% of teens who eat plant-based meats, 22% plan to eat less than they did last year, up from 17% last year. That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for more customers interested in the novelty or the eco-friendly measures.

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Elsewhere, TikTok increased its market share dominance with a 38% preference among teens. That compares to Snapchat, which had 30% of teen votes for their favorite social media platform, and Instagram, which held just 20% of the market share.

That’s an interesting metric for this generation with increasing spending power. These consumers are using TikTok far more often than any other app, which means advertising campaigns should focus on TikTok rather than Instagram or TV, which many young consumers are unlikely to even see.

Taco Bell, which just released its Mexican Pizza: The Musical on TikTok, is a great example of a brand using the power of Gen Z to market themselves. The video debuting the Mexican pizza currently has over 57 million views. And this video of Taco Bell’s test kitchen testing new menu hacks has over 260 million views.

The quick service brand has just teamed up with another famous TikTok brand, Truff, to co-produce Nacho Fries with Truff Sauce this week.

The future of virtual reality among teenagers remains unclear. Virtual reality device usage fell from 17% in the spring to 14% in the fall, with 25% of teens owning a virtual reality device (this number remained unchanged).

Starbucks, the second most popular restaurant chain among teenagers, recently entered the metaverse, but with a twist — no VR goggles required. In order to open the Metaverse to everyone, in the future customers only need the app to download and use the Metaverse from Starbucks. Only time will tell if this strategy — if it does come out — will work for teenagers who have access to actual virtual reality glasses.

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