Industry News | January 27, 2010

Convenience Still Ranks High Among Young Diners

Restaurants and foodservice establishments serving up convenience are poised to do well in this post-recession economy. A new report from Mintel suggests that although value has become the mantra of many contemporary diners, convenience still resonates with the out-to-eat crowd, especially those younger than age 34.

More than half of younger adults rank a restaurant’s proximity to their workplace as very important/important when selecting where to dine (62 percent of 25-34-year-olds and 55 percent of 18-24-year-olds, versus 41 percent of all respondents). The ability to order online ahead of time is also essential to young, time-strapped consumers (31 percent of 25-34-year-olds and 24 percent of 18-24-year-olds, versus 19 percent overall). The younger demographics also rank extended hours (i.e. late-night) and speed of service highly in their restaurant selection processes.

“Though value remains important to diners in this economy, our survey reveals convenience may be equally as important," says Chris Haack, senior analyst at Mintel. "Young adults and young families, especially, are pressed for time, making restaurants an easy and often necessary solution for meals. As foodservice establishments struggle for revenue, improving convenience may help them get diners in the door."

While 43 percent of respondents told Mintel they’ve cut spending on delivery and takeout this year, approximately one in six 18-34-year-olds say they’re spending more on these convenient services compared to the 2008 respondent group. In the past three months, 18-34-year-olds were twice as likely as the general population to have ordered delivery. Approximately 30 percent of them picked up food from a restaurant, compared to 20 percent of all respondents.

Restaurants make mealtime easier, especially for 25-34-year-olds, many of whom work full-time or have young children. Nearly half (49 percent) say they dine at casual restaurants because they’re too tired to cook, while 40 percent do so because they have no time to prepare a meal. (This compares to 40 percent and 30 percent of all respondents, respectively.)

But special occasions, food quality, and socialization remain top reasons that younger adults go to restaurants," Haack says. “Restaurant usage is truly integrated into the lifestyles of adults under age 34. Many people value the fact that they can get quality food with minimal effort at a restaurant. As a bonus, they can spend that meal time with friends or family.”

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