Mobile Ethnography Study: What Does Gen Z Think of School Provided Lunches?

How does your child feel about school provided cafeteria lunches? Our client, a multi-generational research company, set out to gather opinions from Gen Z middle schoolers to answer this exact question. 

According to this article, Gen Z influences $600 billion in spending annually, makes up 40% of our consumer base, and spends $44 billion each year. That’s a lot of consumer power. 

Generation Z makes up those who are 6th through 9th graders (typically aged 11 to 14) which can pose a challenge to market researchers, as conducting research with children requires a much different approach.

However, just because the process of conducting research with children is a bit more difficult does not mean it’s not worthwhile.

With that being said, conducting market research with Gen Z is important, but it requires a careful approach. For this reason, Drive Research, a generational qualitative recruitment company, has developed a unique process to capture Gen Z’s important, insightful, and honest opinions. 

This case study will serve as a great example of the process of recruiting younger generations to participate in market research

Our generational market research company recently completed a mobile ethnography study where Gen Zers answered questions about their school lunchroom experiences using a mobile app. Learn more. 

Overview of the School Lunch Study

Drive Research partnered with an industry leader in generational research and solutions that specializes in Generation Z research. The generational research company hired our qualitative recruitment company for a national school lunch customer experience (CX) study using digital ethnography with a smartphone app.

Our qualitative recruitment focused on the following criteria: 

  • A mix of grades (6th through 9th)
  • A mix of dining frequencies
  • A mix of males and females
  • A mix of geographic regions 
  • One in three participants from a high free and reduced lunch school district

Participants who met these criteria were contacted by the Drive Research recruitment team and asked to complete an 11-question mobile ethnography study. Those who said yes were then sent instructions to download an app and a code to unlock the study. 

What is a mobile ethnography study? And why should researchers be doing it?

Qualitative Recruitment Process for Generation Z 

Drive Research, a national qualitative recruitment firm, utilized our unique, tested, and proven recruitment process to recruit these middle school-aged Gen Z participants.

First, the Drive Research team scheduled a kick-off meeting with our generational research and solutions client to discuss the mobile ethnographic project’s objectives, process, timeline, and screening criteria. 

To find and recruit middle schoolers, Drive Research relied on paid social media posts, zip-code, and behavioral targeting to find the parents of those who matched the client requested criteria referenced above. 

Since the market research project relied on the participation of minors, going through their parents has proven to be the most effective recruitment model for projects like these. 

Process for Screening the Recruited Parents and Gen Z Participants 

Our national market research company, with a specialty in recruitment for Gen Z qualitative research, created an online survey for parents with a mix of questions to pre-screen potential participants. 

The recruitment screener asked the parents questions regarding their child(ren)’s grade, gender, geography, dining frequency, school district, and more. 

Parents whose middle school-aged child met all qualifying criteria based on their answers to the online screener received a follow-up phone call from the Drive Research recruitment team to verify their responses from the survey online.

This strategic recruitment process assures all participants are completely qualified for the study, a good fit for mobile ethnographic research, and made sure we got the thumbs up directly from the middle schoolers’ parents. 

What involvement did the parents of Gen Zers have?

Once a parent and their child were deemed completely qualified for the mobile ethnographic school lunch study, the recruitment team discussed the next steps with the parent and forwarded over a confirmation email with more in-depth instructions and details for the study. 

The recruitment team stressed the importance of the parents’ involvement in the study as the facilitator of the research.

Each parent asked their child the 11-questions and video-recorded their responses. The parent was to ensure the responses were recorded in a quiet, well-lit area, 30 to 60-seconds in length, as well as thorough in answering each question being asked. 

Rewards for the Parents and Middle Schoolers

Parents uploaded the video responses to each of the 11-questions asked in the app. To thank the mobile ethnography participants for their time and feedback, each was rewarded with a $100 Amazon gift card. Upon successful quality check, each participant received their gift card within a short time frame.

Did you know, higher rewards can lead to lower market research costs? Here's why.

Contact Us

Drive Research is a consumer insights provider that partners with organizations to deliver relevant insights through various research approaches. If you’re interested in partnering with Drive Research to conduct a mobile ethnography project, contact us!

  1. Message us on our website
  2. Email us at
  3. Call us at 888-725-DATA
  4. Text us at 315-303-2040

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