What is in this article?:
- Millennial dining behavior hard to define
- Focusing on food, utility
Research firms find younger consumers do not often conform to restaurant behaviors set by previous generations.
Recent studies of Millennials show an age demographic that is large, contradicts itself and contains multitudes, which shows restaurant marketers just how challenging it will be to attract these consumers and win their loyalty.
Marketing agencies and research firms such as BBDO and YouGov BrandIndex have found that younger consumers do not often conform to restaurant behaviors set by previous generations or to stereotypes popularized in many advertisements.
One agency, BBDO Atlanta, recently surveyed 1,000 Millennial adults — who, while definitions differ, typically encompass people born between the late 1970s and early 2000s — and found that the group represents about 27 percent of the U.S. population and shows a high propensity for dining out.
BBDO reported that 64 percent of Millennials eat out at least once per week. Nearly half the respondents self-identified as “foodies,” but those food lovers stressed that their enjoyment of eating did not rule out visiting quick-service restaurants or exclude their friends identifying as “meat and potatoes”-type eaters.
In the study of 1,000 Millennials, 48 percent of those surveyed called themselves foodies, and 44 percent of those respondents also said they eat fast food between one and four times per week. Of the study’s foodies, 89 percent said they recently ate at McDonald’s, compared with 83 percent for Subway and 69 percent for Olive Garden.
Rich Santiago, BBDO Atlanta’s senior vice president of behavioral planning, said these Millennial respondents explained in survey interviews that being a foodie means more about appreciating food and the experience of eating out, with much less emphasis on excluding certain types of food.
“It’s an enjoyment of food, rather than having a curated taste,” Santiago said. “Food quality and transparency are important, but Millennials are also talking about not only unique flavor combinations but also the experience. How does technology enhance or detract from it? Does the restaurant have a community vibe?”