Pizza Hut and Chipotle Mexican Grill are going the extra mile to satisfy the late-night cravings of Gen Z. In an exciting announcement on Wednesday, both companies revealed that they will be extending their operating hours in selected locations.
Pizza Hut: Keeping the Cravings Alive
Pizza Hut, a subsidiary of Yum! Brands, is taking bold steps by keeping thousands of its locations open until midnight or even as late as 2 a.m. This means that customers can indulge in the full menu for either delivery or carry-out during these extended hours.
Chipotle’s “Boorito” Promotion in College Towns
In line with its annual “Boorito” promotion, Chipotle will be extending its operating hours until midnight in 53 restaurants located in college towns on Halloween. This exciting promotion also grants reward members a discounted entree on the spookiest day of the year.
Targeting Late-Night Food Lovers
Both companies made it clear that their decision was driven by the desire to cater to young customers who frequently experience late-night cravings. Pizza Hut acknowledged this undeniable trend among the younger generation and aims to fulfill their post-dinner hankerings.
Chipotle conducted a survey among its customers and found that over 80% of those between the ages of 18 and 26 expressed interest in seeing Chipotle open until midnight. Moreover, in the past two years, Chipotle has witnessed a significant 30% increase in transactions after 8 p.m. on Halloween.
Late-Night Food Choices from Yum! Brands
Yum! Brands is no stranger to operating late-night food establishments. KFC and Taco Bell, both under Yum! Brands, have already captivated late-night diners in select markets. Taco Bell, in particular, has garnered a loyal following as a fan-favorite destination after a night out.
This strategic move by Pizza Hut and Chipotle demonstrates their commitment to satisfying the cravings and desires of Gen Z, proving that they are not only tasty but also attuned to the changing needs of their customers.
Taco Bell’s Late Night Dominance
Taco Bell continues to reign as the top late-night destination in the U.S., according to Yum! Brands’ Chief Financial Officer, Chris Turner. The company’s latest quarter results were boosted by its strong sales during late-night hours.
However, Yum! Brands may need to work on capturing the attention of younger consumers. In Piper Sandler’s biannual “Taking Stock With Teens” survey, none of Yum’s brands were listed among teenagers’ preferred restaurants. In response, the company has taken steps to appeal to younger customers, including enhancing its digital ordering capabilities and introducing new products, as discussed during an investor day in December.
Gen Z has long favored Chipotle, but the latest Piper Sandler survey revealed a shift in preferences. McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A surpassed Chipotle in popularity, pushing it down to the fourth spot among teenagers’ favorite restaurants this fall, after being ranked third in the spring.
Piper Sandler analyst Brian Mullan suggests that the rise of McDonald’s among teens could be an indicator of potential economic concerns. It is worth noting that McDonald’s gained market share from Chipotle, which raised its prices by an average of 8% in 2022.