Trends & Insights

Three ways to feed Gen Z and Millennials’ dessert obsession

Megan Slagel
Customer Sales Executive, Food Service

Does your food operation serve young adults? If so, be sure you’re also serving dessert—and don’t leave the details to chance. A recent national study shows that not only do Gen Z (18–21) and Millennials (22–39) have an “especially strong” desire for dessert, they’ll choose a restaurant based on its desserts, and they’ll especially seek out certain kinds of branded desserts.

Young consumers can’t get enough sweets.

How much do Gen Z and Millennials love their cakes, cookies, pies, ice cream and other desserts? To find out, we recently commissioned a study with the Center for Generational Kinetics, a leader in generational research. The answer? A lot:

  • 87 percent think about eating dessert at least once a day.
  • 47 percent have a favorite restaurant they frequent just for desserts.
  • Three out of four think every special occasion needs a special dessert.


Plus, research shows that the younger the generation, the stronger the obsession.

  • Half of all Gen Z has skipped a meal altogether and just ordered dessert instead.
  • For Gen Z especially, dessert is a big part of their social lives, their social media and their relationships.


Become a dessert destination.

Restaurant operators have the power to sway—and attract—these influential young consumers. When you tap into their desires, you can turn this dessert trend in your favor.


  1. Lead with dessert.

For Gen Z and millennials, dessert is not just a special treat. Dessert defines how they socialize, how they celebrate, and where they choose to eat. Based on the study, here’s how to put dessert first:

  • Spotlight desserts on your menu and in your marketing.
  • Have your servers start mentioning desserts from the first visit to the table.
  • Make sure your dessert menu is impossible to miss.


  1. Brand strategically.

Considering that 63 percent of Gen Z (and 57 percent of Millennials) will choose a restaurant specifically to get a branded dessert they love, how you brand your desserts is critical. And the brands you choose matter as well. Half of Gen Zers are more likely to order an item with a branded ingredient they ate as a child. Leverage this brand love by including familiar branded ingredients in your menu names and descriptions.


  1. Drive repeat traffic and higher pricing.

HERSHEY’S and REESE’S are two of the top three brands that Gen Z and Millennials trust when they’re selecting a branded dessert. Based on the Center for Generational Kinetics’ research, this trust in Hershey translates into repeat traffic, higher pricing and a sweeter bottom line.

  • More than half of Gen Z and Millennial consumers believe a dessert is higher quality if it is branded with Hershey ingredients—and they are willing to pay a premium.
  • One-third of these younger consumers will pay between $0.50 and $1.50 more for a Hershey-branded dessert.
  • 70 percent of Gen Zers are likely to return to a restaurant where they enjoyed a Hershey-branded dessert to order another. 63 percent of Millennials would do the same.

Partner with Hershey to deliver the brands, flavors, and desserts that Gen Z and Millennials are craving.

According to the study, Gen Z and millennial consumers are a “tremendously influential” segment of dessert buyers, and their spending power will only accelerate in the next five years. Understanding these consumers—and adjusting accordingly—is a powerful way to convert desserts to dollars.


Learn more and read the full study at