This is the 3rd insights digest from Segmanta’s brand new study, The Ultimate Food Survey 2020. We surveyed more than 2,000 U.S. consumers to understand their opinions surrounding their eating habits, lifestyles, fast food consumption, and favorite fast food restaurants, etc. 


The year 2020 has been a game-changer for many industries and advertising is no exception.

Gen Z and Millennials’ digital-oriented hobbies such as watching TV/Movies (66%), surfing the internet (53%), and gaming (36%) have become exacerbated following the social distancing guidelines and lack of in-person entertainment.

As a result, brands have doubled-down their ad budgets on gaming and Esports in order to engage audiences through new online channels. In particular, the fast food industry giants, such as McDonald’s and KFC, have wasted no time in collaborating with Esports partners.

So, where does the opportunity lie in gaming for fast food marketers?


Meet The Gen Z Game Devotees

62% of Gen Z gamers are male and the majority (40%) of them are currently students. The male gamers claimed that “spicy” (23%) is their favorite flavor while females mainly prefer “salty” (27%). The survey results indicate that fries/onion rings (65%) and soft drinks (54%) are Gen Z gamers’ “must-haves” when ordering at a fast food restaurant.

McDonald’s is the preferred burger brand for 60% of the surveyed Gen Z gamers; 62% fancy Chik-fil-a for fried chicken meals; as for snacks, 53% prefer McDonald’s (62% more likely compared to Millennial gamers). 

When asked which fast food brands’ advertisements do they like, Taco Bell (32%) and McDonald’s (28%) were the two brands that left a deep impression amongst the Gen Z gamers audience. 


Millennial Gamers Have Adventurous Tastes

61% of the surveyed Millennial gamers are male and  57% are employed full-time. The majority (23%) of male Millennial gamers had a similar taste as Gen Z-ers, claiming “spicy” is their favorite flavor while female Millennial gamers prefer “sweet” (23%). 

42% of the male Millennial gamers described themselves as “adventurous eaters” (who are willing to experiment with new food and innovative food ideas). During a typical visit to a fast food restaurant, 48% of the Millennial gamers tend to order burgers,16% more likely compared to Gen Z gamers. 

Unlike Gen Z, most (60%) of the Millennial gamers love a good burger meal from Wendy’s instead of McDonald’s. As for the fried chicken, the majority (52%) of Millennials prefer KFC over Chick-fil-a. 

Fast Food Chains March Towards Online Gaming

Although the above analysis is only a glance at the personas of Gen Z and Millennial gamers, brands are recognizing the connection between Esports entertainment and their customers.

A recent study conducted by Newzoo suggests a strong correlation between gaming and food consumption. In North America, gamers are more likely to prefer salty snacks along with soft drinks during the game sessions. 

According to our study, 43% of individuals who prefer KFC regularly play video games. KFC successfully promoted the brand by identifying the dynamics of the online gaming audience on the Twitch platform (82% Gen Z and Millennial males) via authentic content and using gaming influencers’ great potential to promote brand awareness (most users are in favor of brand sponsorships). Fast food brands are taking advantage of the popularity of the online gaming culture, seizing the opportunity to join forces with viral Twitch stars and to amplify brand impact. 

KFC was not the only fast food leader to set foot in online gaming. In order to pull the distance closer with younger generations, McDonald’s launched its own Esports team McDonald’s Riders to compete in the soccer game FIFA 21 in October 2020. This is not an unusual move from McDonald’s. The brand has been intentionally increasing the amount of involvement in digital-driven marketing tactics, assembling a “digital customer engagement team” earlier this year to leverage technology and draw more customers from its rivals. 

Additionally, brands such as Chipotle and Zaxby also teamed up with gaming brands and offered sponsorships as the pandemic caused mass cancellation of outdoor sports and delayed movie/TV show releases, redirecting audiences’ attention to online gaming. 

Want to find your own insights?

To expedite recovery from the global health crisis, fast food chains are determined to engage remote entertainment audiences by forming long-term partnerships and providing strategic sponsorships. The link between content creation and digital advertising forms new leagues amongst fast food brands and the gaming industry. The televised gameplays and streaming platforms like Twitch will point new directions for digital advertising and reshape the online marketing scope. 

By leveraging Segmanta’s declarative data solutions, fast food brands can distinguish the gamer segment’s favorite flavors, beloved food items, preferred fast food restaurants, and frequently played games in order to strengthen the association of fast food while gaming.