Catering To the Unique Millennial Market: Restaurants Look to Meet Gen Y's Needs Without Alienating Others, New Technomic Study Finds

Americans born between 1977 and 1992 comprise the largest and most influential generational cohort since the Baby Boomers. As this group transitions into careers, marriage and raising children, restaurant operators and countless other businesses all want to know how to make important inroads with Millennials, while continuing to appeal to other key segments of the population.

Technomic‘s report, Understanding the Foodservice Attitudes & Behaviors of Millennials, reveals critical insights on the similarities and differences between Millennial, Generation X and Baby Boomer consumers. It also examines differences within the Millennial cohort by ethnicity, age and life stage to help determine how needs evolve over time and what to expect for the up-and-coming Generation Z.

"Millennials cover a broad range of life stages, from college years, to early career to starting a family. They are not one homogeneous group with constant needs so it is imperative that restaurant chains stay on top of their changing needs and expectations, particularly in the areas of health and wellness, ability to customize their order and atmosphere," said Sara Monnette, director of consumer research at Technomic, in a news release. "That said, Millennial consumers are only a portion of the total foodservice market, and it is important to meet their unique needs in a way that resonates across generational groups."

To help operators and suppliers better understand Millennials, Technomic combined secondary, qualitative and quantitative research to develop the comprehensive Understanding the Foodservice Attitudes & Behaviors of Millennials report. Interesting findings include:

  • Let’s eat: 41 percent of Millennials purchase food away from home at least twice a week compared to 38 percent of Gen Xers and 37 percent of Baby Boomers.
  • Open to new foods: 48 percent of Millennials compared to 47 percent of Gen Xers and 31 percent of Baby Boomers strongly agree that they have a diverse social network. Of those Millennials, 67 percent say it makes them more interested in ethnic foods.
  • Millennials are following you: A majority of Millennials (59 percent) say they look up restaurant menus online often or very often via a computer and 19 percent do so using a mobile device.
  • Drink up: 20 percent of Millennials agree it is important for restaurants to serve alcoholic beverages compared to 12 percent of Gen Xers and 10 percent of Baby Boomers.

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