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A Pioneer in EATertainment is Uniquely Capturing Gen Z’s Attention

Gen Z and brands

Robert Thompson, the creative mind behind EATertainment concepts like Punch Bowl Social, has consistently stayed ahead of the curve by closely monitoring youth and entertainment trends. His journey began in 2010, where he revolutionized the modern entertainment model by seamlessly combining scratch kitchens, craft beverages, and design-centric spaces. Thompson’s unique approach involves tailoring these experiences to cater primarily to Gen Z and Millennials, which has had a profound impact on the emerging restaurant subcategory known as EATertainment.

This customized approach isn’t limited to the food and entertainment industries but extends to all of Thompson’s new ventures. In a recent Q&A session, he shared insights into how brands can better understand the interests of young consumers to create engaging appeals, even when those interests may appear contrary to the end goal, such as integrating fast-food love into a more extensive dining experience.

Thompson’s take

When asked about how youth trends have influenced the entertainment concepts he’s created, Thompson highlighted his pioneering role in blending scratch kitchens, craft beverages, and design-centric environments at Punch Bowl Social back in 2010. These innovative combinations set the bar for subsequent experiences. He emphasized that each brand he’s launched is meticulously designed with the psychographics of his target audience, primarily Gen Z, in mind. However, this doesn’t exclude other demographic groups, as attracting and catering to these influential cohorts naturally attracts a broader audience due to the sway of Gen Z and Millennials.

As Gen Z has become a more prominent target audience, Thompson has recognized their heightened concern for environmental issues and their preference for DIY service. To align with these values, his venues have eliminated plastic bottles and incorporated self-pour beverage walls and food counters. This shift from full-service environments to a more Gen Z-friendly approach has been key to staying relevant and appealing to this demographic.

Thompson also acknowledged Gen Z’s strong interest in branded experiences, opening doors for partnerships with non-food and beverage brands. Two of his upcoming concepts, Camp Pickle and Jaguar Bolera, present natural opportunities for co-branding, aligning with the unique aesthetics of these venues and appealing to a wide range of potential partners.

Drinking & Dining Preference

In terms of Gen Z’s preferences for drinking and dining, Thompson has adapted his offerings to align with their behaviors. He’s noticed that Gen Z drinks less than previous generations and doesn’t overly identify as foodies. This has led to a focus on creative non-alcoholic beverages and a shift toward a counter service model in venues like Camp Pickle and Jaguar Bolera, making high-quality food accessible with a flexible and DIY ordering process.

Even with Gen Z’s preference for casual and quick service dining, Thompson has maintained a commitment to delivering quality food that is both consistent and visually appealing. This approach has been critical for his large venues that can serve a substantial number of guests simultaneously, often necessitating counter service for efficiency.

The future

Looking ahead, Thompson sees EATertainment venues as potential “third spaces” for Gen Z, much like Starbucks was for previous generations. He believes that these venues can become central to Gen Z’s social lives, offering a space where they feel comfortable and connected. The future looks bright for Thompson’s ventures, with exciting developments on the horizon. With the launch of Camp Pickle and Jaguar Bolera, he’s poised to meet the growing demand for unique experiences that resonate authentically with young consumers. As these concepts expand to new locations, Thompson remains dedicated to authenticity as the guiding principle for everything he creates.

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