Because I Wanted One
The Story of a Gen Z and Medium Lemonade from Wendy’s.
I have a niece named Lucy. She’s 14 and will be in the 9th grade in the fall. She is a Gen Z.
There are a few things to know about her.
Her favorite 4 things in the world are soccer, friends, sushi and family.
She’s the oldest of 4 girls. She is #2 out of 8 girl cousins on her dads’ side/my brothers’ side.
She’s bright, funny, has a huge heart and infectious smile.
She DoorDashed a Medium Wendy’s Lemonade.
I went to pick Lucy up at her house (my brothers house), because she was going to hang out with me for a few days while the rest of the family was out of town, and she had to stay back because of soccer. As I walked into the house to help her with her things – I noticed she grabbed a plastic cup of beautiful pink lemonade from Wendy’s as we walked out the door.
Note: I also knew she wasn’t supposed to leave her house without telling me. She doesn’t drive, and a bike ride would be significant – so I was a little confused.
Me: Um, when did you go to Wendy’s? I thought you were supposed to stay home until I could come get you.
Lucy: I DoorDahsed it.
Me: Oh cool – So you got that with your lunch?
Lucy: No, just this. They’re good. And because I wanted one.
Me: Um, just that? How much did it cost?
Lucy: I don’t know – I had a free code, so I used it.
Me: On a Lemonade – from Wendy’s?
Lucy: Yeah, I was going to get a large, but that would have been too much.
Me: You had a medium drink from Wendy’s delivered to you?
Lucy: Yeah. I was thirsty and they’re really good.
Me & Lucy: Eye roll
My mind was blown. I’ve shared this story (much to Lucy’s embarrassment) to many of my friends, and they all reacted about the same way as me. Her parents were also quite amused. It’s hard to explain the disbelief – maybe it’s because her parents and I are Gen Xers. Also, maybe because I grew up on a farm, and the first time I got food delivered to me was when I got to college. And the only options were pizza and Chinese food. The thought of this at 14 would never even have crossed my mind.
This generation is astronomically smarter and more self-reliant than we ever were, especially at that age. They are not afraid or ashamed to use technology and tools to make their lives better and easier and to get what they want. I’m in complete amazement, but also have a twinge of jealousy that Lucy didn’t give it more than 1 minute of thought to get her nice cold drink because she wanted one.
A few weeks prior, I begrudgingly DoorDashed dinner (a chicken salad and Iced Tea from Applebee's) after getting home late in the evening. I didn’t have any food in the fridge and I was exhausted, starving, and had a ton to do yet that night at home. I felt a little embarrassed about it– I thought I was being lazy and unproductive. I justified the decision knowing that I would pay for it, and I made sure to leave a good tip to the driver. I was using a paid service to make that evening better and slightly easier. What’s the harm?
Lucy’s (Gen Z) Thought Process: I want one because they’re super good. I have the ability and resources to get one right now, so I did. Moving On….
Leah’s (Gen X) Thought Process: I’m starving and tired and it’s my own fault I don’t have anything at home. This is my issue that I didn’t plan for this and I don’t want to bother anyone, and I really should just take care of myself. I’m not supposed to just hit the Easy Button. I did it, and now I feel a little bit guilty. I'll go to the store in the morning so I don't have this happen again - Hopefully I don't see my DoorDash driver, because he'll judge me for being unorganized.
Get over it
People (me being in that category) need to get over themselves and the ‘I don’t hit the easy button' mentality. This is now a way of life. Just as Baby Boomers didn’t see why texting or social media was necessary only a few years ago. Heck, my dad thought call waiting was completely foolish and unnecessary in 1995. Gen Xers must be okay with Gen Zs utilizing all tools and resources available that fulfill their needs. Now.
As a marketer, it reminds me that there is a group of people who have a completely different mindset about what they want and how to get it. As usual, things are changing, and we have to be aware and understand that Lucy and her friends are coming into the market fast, strong, powerful, and demanding. The tools are changing, there are apps, and companies, and services out there for immediate gratification and making life easier. This is no longer “that would be awesome”, but it’s a “this is what we expect and demand”. Getting a medium drink from Wendy’s whenever you want it without leaving your house – is now normal. Because Lucy wanted one. Duh.