Trends & Insights

Worth sharing: How social media can drive dessert sales with Gen Z

Al Adams
Senior Manager, National Food Service

Wondering how to attract the spending power of Gen Z? We recently commissioned a national study with the Center for Generational Kinetics to better understand this up-and-coming generation (born 1996–present). Here’s what we learned:

Gen Z loves dessert almost as much as social media.

Gen Z is the first generation that has never known a world without social media. This young generation is just coming into adulthood, with money to spend and things to say—and social media is often where they say it. None of that is a surprise.

What might surprise you is how much they love dessert. Ninety percent of Gen Z thinks about dessert at least once every day, and half has ordered dessert instead of a meal at least once. And this generation doesn’t just love eating dessert—they love sharing it too.

  • Desserts are the #1 food that Gen Z photographs.
  • And 46 percent of Gen Zers have a picture of a dessert on their phone right now.

So if you’re looking for Gen Z, you’ll find them on social media—and if you want to get their attention, start with dessert. Here are some insights and tips on how to connect with this influential generation using social media.


  1. Post photos of branded desserts.

Branded desserts top Gen Z’s “MUST TRY” list—so post mouthwatering pics of the branded desserts they won’t want to miss.

  • Use the social media platforms Gen Zers frequent, like Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat.
  • Include popular brand names Gen Z will recognize.
    • 63 percent of Gen Z will choose a restaurant specifically to get a branded dessert they really like.
    • 55 percent of Gen Z are more likely to order an item with brand ingredients they recognize.


  1. For maximum impact, feature Hershey brands.

Research shows that HERSHEY’S and REESE’S are two of the top three brands Gen Zers love in their desserts. This translates into repeat traffic, higher pricing and more social media shares.


  • Over half of Gen Z consumers believe a dessert is higher quality if it is branded with Hershey ingredients—and they are willing to pay a premium. One-third will pay between $0.50 and $1.50 more for a Hershey branded dessert.
  • 39 percent of Gen Z are more likely to post a picture of their dessert on social media when it has Hershey ingredients.
  • 70 percent of Gen Zers are likely to return to a restaurant where they enjoyed a Hershey-branded dessert to order another.


  1. Encourage sharing.

According to the study, “Not only is Gen Z more likely to take a picture of dessert over any other meal throughout their day, they are also more likely to post it on social media when it is a Hershey branded dessert item.”

  • Make your desserts photo-worthy so Gen Z customers will snap and share posts.
  • Create custom hashtags.
  • Invite customers to tag you and your hashtags in their dessert photos.
  • Take the hashtags one step further by offering discounts and contests to diners who share photos with your hashtags.

  1. Make it a two-way conversation.

When your Gen Z diners post about you, tag you, and use your hashtags, be sure to like, comment on and share their posts. Interaction goes a long way with this generation.


Bottom line? Gen Z is obsessed with three things: dessert, social media and sharing what they love. This combination can have a powerful impact on your business.


Learn about other ways to reach Gen Z and millennials, and read the full study, at