Everything Foodservice Operators Need to Know About Generational Groups
By Dwayne Reno
Nowadays a typical foodservice customer can be young, old, gluten free, vegan or carnivore. They also fall into generational groups which include millennials, Gen Xers, Baby Boomer and Generation Z. Each of these groups make buying decisions based off very different wants and needs; many like to keep things simple while others like to ride the yearly wave of food trends. This blog entry will examine the generational groups and what drives their food choices.
Most foodservice customers in 2017 will fall into one of these categories:
Age 51 - 69, have been a staple consumer for foodservice operators over the years because boomers have greater access to money and time. Boomers enjoy 90.4 billion ready to eat snacking occasions yearly – 20 per cent more than millennials, who come in second place with 83.1 billion snacking occasions per year according to The NPD Group, a market research company. Although boomers were overtook by millennials back in 2015, they are still a huge market with 74.9 million that’s .5 million less than millennials.
As boomers get older in age they tend to eat healthier and are the main drivers of the eating fresh, less processed food craze. Boomers see fresh foods as important to their longevity and are large consumers of organic and additive free foods.
Millennial (Generation Y or Boomer's Kids)
Age 18 - 34 have a much more aligned eating habit then the other groups. Millennials tend to be very health conscious of what they are eating and are the driving force behind the clean label movement. Millennials also have a sweet tooth and are known to snack on chocolate, candy/candy bars, chips and cookies. They are also strong users of technology and tend to spend more money online according to The NPD Group. This group is one of the reason fast food chains are starting to automate their services, and why so many online food delivery businesses keep popping up. However a huge budget is not needed to capture the attention of millennials as they shop more frequently at brick and mortar, and are known to enjoy smaller, more specialized establishments (independents).
Age 34 - 54, are usually left in the shadow of millennials and boomers as they represent the smaller of the top three generational groups. Gen Xers are also health conscious, and place high importance on food quality. According to a government of Alberta study, 69.1 per cent of Gen Xers stated they wanted to try to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables. Gen Xers also enjoy dining out and since many of them have duel incomes they also have the money to do so. The NDP Group also reported that Gen Xers represent 23 per cent of all restaurant visits, not far behind Boomers (26 per cent) and millennials (25 per cent). This forgotten group of Gen Xers provides a great new opportunity for foodservice operators currently not selling to this market.
Age 2 – 17, their tastes tend to change over time and are usually more reliant on their parent’s income early on. Gen Zers are a very snack happy bunch each of these snack-crazed kids consumes an above-average amount of 1,500 snack foods per year according to a study by The NPD Group. These snacks tend to be healthier during a Gen Zers early years because their parents are the ones paying. However as they mature their snacks choices tend to become much sweeter and savorer with greater interest being placed on flavor instead of heath.
Their love for snacks and bold flavors have not gone unnoticed. Many food manufactures are searching the globe looking for ethic flavours to pair with snack staples like potato chips. While the foodservice automation floodgates opened with Millennials, Gen Zers will require brands to elevate their digital experience as this bunch of digital natives are accustomed to working, playing and messaging online.
What Drives Them Should Drive You
The things driving each group’s decision making while similar can be costly to implement. If your establishment is yet to open try to target one of these generational groups and then diversify your menu offerings to reach others down the road.
If your location is already open for business you should already have a firm grip on one or more of these groups. Try to focus on menu innovations that will help you stand out with the group(s) you are currently cater too, such as seasonal produce, HERE and using clean label supplies.
Until next time your customers want to know why they should spend money at your restaurant, bar or cafe. So give them the goods!
Dwayne Reno CEO & Founder
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