Generational trends that will influence the future of foodservice

Generational trends that will influence the future of foodservice

Generational trends that will influence the future of foodserviceThe standards in today’s foodservice world are anything but standard for operators. Competition is no longer within segments, but across all segments and even from new comers to foodservice like grocery stores, convenience stores, food trucks, pop-up and home delivery. All of these options are changing the way consumers eat.

It can be a daily, weekly, and monthly experiment to find the right mix of menu innovation, daily specials, promotional activity, not to mention loyalty programs, social media, and advertising. This is the new reality for foodservice operators with all of these efforts focused on driving traffic, increasing check average, customer retention and satisfaction. According to Technomic, Inc., in their 2016 Generational Consumer Trend Report, four generations make up 79 percent of the U.S. population and each of them want something different in their dining out experience. While most operators are comfortable with what to offer Generation X and Boomers, many operators are still working to understand how to adapt for Generation Z and Millennials.
Generation ZGeneration Z – Nearly 50 percent of Gen Z are non-Caucasian, they are the first generation to grow up completely in the digital age so they demand to know where their food is grown, how it’s grown and who grew it. They are adventurous and want to try ethnically diverse foods. While they want all of these things, they are also focused on low prices, but want their food fast and accurate.

Capitalizing on Gen Z – Technology will be key to keeping this generation engaged and operators who respond will be rewarded with patrons for the foreseeable future. Offering food adventures will appeal heavily to this generation, which means regular menu updates to drive repeat traffic. Equipment like the Merrychef® eikon allows operators to change and update menus frequently while producing speed of service and customer experiences demanded by Gen Z.

MillennialsMillennials – Foodservice operators in all segments are focused on millennials as this generation considers themselves true foodies. They grew up watching food-centric T.V. shows and are willing to try foods with ethnically inspired flavors and ingredients. Moreover, while they are adventurous, but have families that weigh into their foodservice decisions and at times kids can be the veto vote. While many have young children takeout and delivery factor into their purchase decisions to curb the daily rush of life.

Capitalizing on Millennials – Variety in menu offerings from food to beverages will make Millennials take notice. Customization of menu items is essential for this generation, as they want themselves and their children to experience new flavors and ingredients, but they are only willing to push the envelope so far. Speed of service along with ambiance that is conducive to not only family time but date night, ladies’ night and friend gatherings are essential. Multiuse equipment can make operations even more efficient, Lincoln Impinger ovens or Convotherm Combi ovens allow operators to deliver fresh hot food that can cooked, baked, steamed, crisped or toasted on demand to allow for customization.

Generation XGeneration X – Considered the middle generation, they sometimes get lost between the spending power of the boomer generation and the up-and-coming dining habits of millennials, yet they are unique in their own right. They are high users of takeout and delivery options, due to mom being a main influencer of the monthly food budget. They enjoy traditional foods like the boomers, but also enjoy ethnic cuisine like millennials. The ideal dining experience for this group combines the social experience with fun food and beverages.

Capitalizing on Generation X – With spending power that rivals that of the boomer generation and a sense of adventure comparable to millennials, operators have a unique opportunity with X’ers Focusing on upscale, customizable menu offerings will have high appeal for this generation. Call outs on preparation and origin, homemade, smoked, wood-fired etc., are more likely to entice trial of menu items over other generations. Equipment that makes creating customized dishes simple like Delfield® Coolscapes™ can increase speed of service by making ingredients easily accessible.

BoomersBoomers – Quality of life defines this generation as they age and prepare for retirement. They tend to dine out less than other generations, but when they do eat out, quality of food plays heavily into their restaurant choice. Fresh food choices are also a key decision factor for this generation as they age, but they are not willing to give up flavor and taste in their meals. This generation wants a more traditional restaurant experience, not a social event like the younger generations, with expectations like friendly, high quality service driving the dining decision.

Capitalizing on Boomers – Ensuring staff understands the expectations of this generation, with regards to service, can deliver regular customer visits. Their spending power is still the highest of the all generations and the price/value equation is less about cost, and more about perception of what they are receiving for that cost. More traditional menu items like, beef, pork and seafood are more likely to be ordered by boomers, but they must be prepared in a traditional manner, but with a twist when it comes to flavor or taste. Convotherm® combi ovens allow operators the ability to prepare traditional menu items that appeal to this generation, while giving operators the flexibility to prepare a variety of foods in one unit.

At initial glance, differences among the generations appear vast and operators may think they need to choose a generation in which their concept will appeal and only cater to them. But upon closer examination, savvy operators will see, there are overlapping trends among generations letting operators identify synergies between generations and exploit them to drive traffic, increase same store visits and drive increased profits.

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