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Chartwells takes aim at Gen Z

Chartwells takes aim at Gen Z

New “Where Hungry Minds Gather” brand designed to appeal to the generation now entering college.

Millennials are so 2010! Today, the demographic focus in colleges is shifting to Generation Z, those born since 1995 who are beginning to enter their college years and will slowly supplant the millennial generation that preceded them.

Chartwells Higher Education Dining Services has noticed this generational shift and is unrolling a higher education brand identity that meets the needs and expectations of this latest demographic wave. Called “Where Hungry Minds Gather,” it supplants the “Eat.Live.Learn” brand Chartwells developed to meet the needs and expectations of millennials.

How are Gen Z youngsters different from millennials? According to Harvard Public Health, they have an extreme affinity for technology that makes them “over-connected yet under-related.”

“It’s kind of a misconception that both the millennial generation and Generation Z are both equally tech savvy,” says Patti Girardi, Chartwells’ vice president of marketing & creative services. “That’s not true. Statistically, millennnials multitask across an average of two screens, but Gen Z multitasks across five digital screens.”

And because they are so “tech native versus tech savvy,” she adds, “they are unaware of their own surroundings and even unable to give directions. What it comes down to is that they are over-reliant on their devices.”

Research suggests that brands that promote “high-intensity relationships,” such as over the sharing of food, would be most effective in preparing this generation for the future, Girardi notes.That is the idea behind the new brand slogan “Where Hungry Minds Gather.”

“Chartwells’ global resources help create dining spaces that serve as centers of academic life and help to nurture busy students,” she says. “We draw people together by serving delicious, healthy meals in dining environments that promote personal relationships. If college is about sharing big ideas, discovering new people and making great friendships, then

Chartwells is at the center of a vibrant academic life. We are the place on campus accessible by every student. Our new mission is to be the place where hungry minds gather.”Girardi identifies three pillars of the “Where Hungry Minds Gather” approach. First is to re-emphasize the traditional role of campus dining centers as a communal space.

Second is the investment made into designing these spaces to make them “even more social, to plan them in a way that facilitates even more interaction and serves as a magnet to bring people together while also being a place students want to come.” This involves everything from how seating is designed to infrastructure for entertainment. “Does it fit into their behavior of taking selfies, for example?” she asks.

The third piece is cuisine and nutrition. “This is a group that loves food, perhaps even more so than the millennials but is relatively inactive, so that’s created some health issues,” Girardi explains. She cites one statistic that shows that 51 percent of teenage boys report that gaming is their primary source of entertainment.

She says many details about specific restaurant brands and menu focuses will be rolled out over time but adds, “We see an opportunity not only for menu items but the way we prepare and deliver food to encourage even greater social interaction.”

As part of the initiative there will be a different “digital face” to the organization, with a new website launch at plus support at social media sites and the company’s dineoncampus individual campus websites. “You will see a lot more emphasis around gathering, even in the visuals,” Girardi says. “This is a group that communicates visually, in emojis and emoticons and pictures much more than around text.”

The plan is to have the fresh new look installed on campus this fall, including guest touchpoints like uniforms and digital signage. Eventually, though, “every part of our business will be aligned with this new vision, from dining platforms to guest services, catering and the core culinary piece,” Girardi says.

Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]

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