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Generational eating: it’s all a matter of taste

Generational Eating

Baby Boomers and Millennials represent nearly 60% of foodservice dollars spent in Canada. Now occupying the 45 - 64 age demographic, the iconic Boomers are aging. Depending where they sit on their 18 - 34 age continuum, the Millennials are either coming of age or they already have come of age. It’s not surprising, then, that the Boomers and Millennials exhibit very distinct preferences when it comes to the food service establishments they frequent and the experience they are looking for when they get there. Understanding these differences can help you more effectively target these two groups.

Location, location, location
Boomers and Millennials have distinct criteria when it comes to deciding where to eat out. Boomers prefer Full Service Restaurants (FSR) and are more likely to visit independents. In contrast, Millennials prefer Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) and are more likely to visit chains. Given their life stage, some of the other factors influencing the dining decisions of Boomers include taste, freshness, health/nutrition and availability of homemade foods. The younger Millennials place a higher priority on time, availability of exciting new flavours, low price and portability.

Different strokes
The majority of both Boomers and Millennials claim to enjoy trying new flavours of food from time to time. However, Millennials are more likely to say that they are bored with the ordinary, expected choices. In fact, 99% of Millennials say that they would like more restaurants to offer foods that feature a combination of flavours, while only 72% of Boomers make the same claim. Here are some other differences in the tastes of Millennials and Boomers:

  • Millennials cite garlic, chipotle, jalapeno and teriyaki as flavours they would like to see on menus more often
  • Boomers claim to be more concerned with choices centered around health, such as seeing low-fat, fat-free and sugar-free options on the menu
  • 78% of Millennials claim that they are more interested in ethnic flavours and cuisines, compared with only 47% of Boomers
  • 92% of Millennials want to try new flavours, compared with only 53% of Boomers
  • 77% of Millennials like dishes that feature a fusion of flavours from more than one type of cuisine, compared with only 63% of Boomers

Targeting your menu
It’s pretty clear from the data that new and ethnic flavours are going to have the most traction among Millennial consumers. Establishments who want to cater to this younger clientele should keep things adventurous, experimenting with flavours that are out of the ordinary. This Bombay Chicken Pizza recipe showcases spicy, ethnic flavours that are sure to please the palates of Millennials. 

Establishments catering to Boomers would be well advised to keep things a little more traditional. Keeping in mind that Boomers also enjoy trying new flavours, albeit to a lesser extent than Millennials, establishments can put a spin on classic favourites by adding in bold flavours, like those featured in this BBQ Beef and Cheddar Pita recipe.

Keeping the preferences of Boomers and Millennials top of mind when menu planning will send customers away satisfied and keep them coming back for more.

*All data courstesy of NPD Group, Inc.