In a recently-released report, foodservice consultants
Technomic found that age-based distinctions among consumers
use of restaurants run deeper than originally expected. The findings, published
in the new Generational Consumer Trend Report, reveal numerous and
often-subtle factors that play an important role in shaping menu and restaurant
trends, while also highlighting key opportunities to effectively market to
these segments.
    The report examines attitudes and behavior relevant to restaurant services
for three generational segments: the Baby Boomers (age 43 to 62); Generation X
(age 32 to 42); and Millennials (age 16 to 31). In addition, it looks at
differences across and within each generation. For example, key findings are
presented for younger versus older Millennials, including insights pertaining
to ethnicity and gender, including special topics such as Internet ordering,
brand preferences, and preferences by dining occasion.
    “Were in a highly
competitive market, one in which many consumers are shifting what were formerly
discretionary dollars toward the purchase of necessities. Its
more important than ever for restaurant operators to understand what their
consumers are looking for in the dining experience and tailor their offering to
it, notes Darren Tristano, executive vice president of
Technomic Information Services. To do that, operators
and suppliers must have information that lets them get into the heads of the
consumer both by generational segment and psychographic cluster.
    One finding presented within the report was that Millennials are the largest
users of natural and organic foods, whereas Baby Boomers are more likely to
believe in balanced meals, consumption of fruits and vegetables, and avoidance
of fats. Also, Boomers are far more interested in limiting trans fat
consumption than are other generations. The majority of Boomers interviewed (51
percent) said they avoided trans fats on a regular basis, as opposed to 34
percent for Millennials and 37 percent for Gen Xers. Another finding was that nearly
half of all Millennials eat more meals away from home than at home, a larger
proportion than among Gen Xers or Boomers. Only four in 10 Gen Xers dine out
more frequently than they eat at home, while Boomers tend to reserve dining out
for special occasions. Though all three generations rated freshly prepared food
as a very important factor in choosing a restaurant, they differed in the
importance of other factors. Nearly half of Millennials (45 percent) and
Boomers (45 percent) said that the opportunity to increase or decrease portion
size is important in choosing a restaurant for a dine-in meal, whereas
availability of kid-friendly menus was important to 47 percent of Gen Xers. Millennials
are most open to ordering foodservice via the Internet, though ordering
preferences differ between males and females. Women are far more likely than
men to place online orders for takeout (36 percent for females compared to 21
percent for males), with the difference increasing for delivery orders (48
percent for females, 30 percent for men).
    The new Generational Consumer Trend Report was developed to give
operators and foodservice suppliers insights into consumers
attitudes, preferences, and restaurant use by generational segment. Its results
are based on an in-depth survey of over 1,500 consumers.
    An additional section using psychographic analysis segments consumers by
attitudes, values, and interests to identify new and alternate market segments.

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