How the Millennial Generation is Changing Restaurants

Millennial Generation is Changing Restaurants

With more than 80 million people between the ages of 18-34, Millennials now comprise the largest dining group in the United States. This shift in demographics has required restaurants to focus more on a wide variety of healthy & adventurous menu choices at affordable prices to meet the demand.

Poised to surpass Baby Boomers in their buying power, Millennials already spend $247 billion per year on dining out. Many of them prefer to order their food on mobile devices and have it delivered to their home or workplace.

Millennial Dining Trends are Re-Shaping the Industry

As you create your restaurant menu, marketing plan, or social media campaign, be aware that the Millennial generation is now the largest general group in the United States. With more than 80 million people aged 18-34, the dining habits of Millenials have spurred enormous growth in the fast/casual sector of restaurants. That trend has popularized chains like Chipotle and Panera Bread, among others.

Without question, Millennials have changed the way restaurants market to customers.  Always plugged in, Millennials want to feel connected to their peers and to the businesses they frequent. That is why social media is essential to reach Millennials. Millennials also have different expectations for the restaurant industry in terms of environmental responsibility.

They expect businesses to give back, beyond just recycling. They seek a sense of community. There are many ways to cater to Millennial dining trends, including customized menus, ethnic and globally inspired ingredients and concepts built around communal dining.

Millennials Now Outnumber Baby Boomers 

For more than 50 years, economic spending has been led by the Baby Boomer generation, those born after WWII and up until the early Sixties. Now in their late teens to early 30s, the Millennial generation is the largest demographic group in the United States. With nearly 80 million people, the Millennial generation is poised to shape American culture in new ways for decades to come.

A great example is the restaurant industry. Many restaurants that have spent decades catering to Baby Boomers are now shifting their menus and businesses practices to attract the next generation of customers. 

Millennial Seek Greater Food Adventures

For restaurants, Millennials represent a new challenge in what food is being served and how it is presented.  According to the report Understanding Millennial, 55% of Millennials like communal dining, while 40% order something different every time they eat out.

Among Millennials, 30% seek organic food -- far more than the 21% of Gen X diners and 15% of Boomers. A whopping 80% want to know where their food is coming from.  Restaurants that address these topics on their menu items, whether local or global, will impress Millennials.

Healthy Food is an Expectation for Millennials

The days of all-you-can-eat buffets are gone. There is increasing evidence to show that the American consumer is more concerned with healthy eating than ever before.  In the 2013 National Household Survey, the National Restaurant Association reported that 81% of adults polled believed there were more healthy options available on restaurant menus than there were two years before. 

Among that group, 72% decided they were more likely to visit a restaurant that offers healthy menu items. Women especially tried to eat healthy when dining out – 75% of women versus 66 % of men. This reflects the trend toward Millennials expecting healthy choices whether they go to a sit-down restaurant or a food truck.

Community is Important to the Millennial

Millennials like community events and support them. As a group, 76% believe they can make a difference in the world and 63% will likely do business with a socially responsible company. This goes beyond being a “green restaurant.” 

Environmentally green steps that used to impress customers, like recyclable flatware & biodegradable takeout containers, don’t dazzle the Millennial generation. Recycling is an expectation.  What they want to know is how is your restaurant making the community a better place?

Working with minorities to provide jobs? Buying local produce? Supporting local charities and other community efforts? Millennial expect more from businesses. However, price is still important, with 35% of Millennial's saying they would compromise their values (at least a little bit) for a better deal.