The different generational groups with their specific tastes have an impact on their choices as consumers. Technomic, an American research group, conducted a survey on diners to find out what the main motivations were behind each group’s actions and how this plays out in the restaurant industry (find the full report in the January 2019 edition of Restaurant Business).

Generations have different reasons or “emotional drivers” for making the choices that they do. Let’s take a look at a few of the more specific findings and how they affect the restaurant industry.

How the generations differ

According to the Deloitte Center for Industry Insights, a research division of Deloitte LLP’s Consumer practice, generations differ fundamentally in the following ways:

  • Baby Boomers­­­ born after the Second World War, between 1946 and 1964, are seen as privileged as they have grown up in a period of economic boom. They are now at retirement age.
  • Generation Xers generally born between 1965 and 1980 (no universally accepted definition) grew up in a time of changing societal values with less adult supervision because of higher divorce rates and more mothers going back to work after having children. Gen Xers are now in midlife and are said to be entrepreneurial.
  • Millennials (also called Generation Y) born between 1980 and 1995 are affected by the Great Recession and a rise in student debt. They are more likely to be well-educated, live at home longer, and follow unconventional career paths. They recently overtook Generation X to take up most of the labour market.
  • Generation Z is the generation that became adults in the second decade of the 21st century. They are associated with being technologically savvy, particularly when it comes to the internet and social media.

Consumer report findings

Having spent a lot of their lives eating out, more than 50% of Baby Boomers now eat out regularly. Their advancing years come with some concern about eating healthier and a desire for convenience. Indicating on the menu that the food is local, cooked fresh and is organic, is likely to go down well with this generation.

Generation X is likely to be in the 42-52 age group and the younger end is saving for children’s university fees while the older end is likely to be putting money away for retirement. This will probably affect their choices about where they eat, so lower prices and specials will encourage this group.

One of the main characteristics of Millennials is that they are busy people who eat on the run. A third of this group said they would buy food or beverages from restaurants two or three times a week. This group is also the most likely to use technology when ordering food with 59% saying they would use mobile ordering. Having an efficient Point of Sale system would be a definite plus to cater to this group.

According to research, 40% of Generation Z eat food while they’re on the move. This is more than any other generation. If you want to appeal to this group, it’s a good idea to serve the items on your menu in a way that can be hand-held. Not surprising because when you think of people of this age, they are likely to be eating with one hand and operating a phone, tablet or laptop with the other. Think food that is good for being on the move such as soups and portions of pasta served in cups or bowls.

We wish you success in welcoming all the different generations to your restaurant. For more restaurant tips that will elevate your establishment to new levels of success, download our guide to Secret Ingredients for a Successful Restaurant.

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Author : Rudi Badenhorst