What matters most to millennials
They made food photography a generational passion, started a culture war by enjoying creamy avocado on a piece of bread and transformed ancient grains into a food of the 21st century. What will drive millennials this year? We tapped into the latest research for a look at our collective future.
The keys to the future are firmly in the grip of millennial parents, average age 30, busy juggling careers, kids and leisure time. Their worldview doesn’t shine any less vividly than at age 20, but some toning adjustments are needed.
What's Driving Millennials?
- Convenient delivery and takeout
- Integrity of ingredients
- Mobile ordering
- Instant cash back rewards
- Experiential dining
- Better-for-you options
- Fun, flavor, function
- Plant power
Convenience is king.
The time crunch for millennials with children will accelerate the trajectory of delivery, takeout and on-the-go options.
“The pace is so hectic for millennials that sitting down for a meal with other people at the table is disappearing,” says Sophie Egan, director of health and sustainability leadership and editorial director for the Strategic Initiatives Group at Culinary Institute of America. “Busy families are looking for someone else to do the cooking at dinner and are turning to restaurants to fill their needs with delivery and takeout options.”
“Mobile ordering will be key as millennial guests age up,” says Jason Dorsey, the “Gen Y Guy” researcher into the millennial mindset as co-founder of The Center for Generational Kinetics. “It’s become completely normalized within this generation.”
Convenience also tips the balance when eating out, continues Dorsey. “Parking and transportation are big topics of conversation with millennials as they start to move out of the urban core to raise families. They’ll come back to dine if restaurants make it easy for them by offering reservations, ample parking or access to public transportation.”
Quality is as important as convenience.
“There is no tradeoff here, as millennials expect temperature, quality and integrity of ingredients of the delivered meal to be equivalent to one served onsite, and they’re willing to pay a premium for it,” says Egan.
Offer “better for you” options, but promote fun and flavor.
“Millennials spend more money on food they deem to be healthier, especially for their children, and this holds true regardless of income,” says Dorsey. “But diversity of food and flavor are just as important.”
“Diners are less likely to order food touted as ‘healthy’ because of a deeply ingrained feeling that it won’t taste good,” adds Egan. “Emphasize functionality, fun and flavor.”
Incent with instant gratification.
“Instant cash back program versus loyalty programs are going to be huge in the restaurant space,” predicts Dorsey. “It’s one of the best ways to encourage millennials to choose a specific restaurant and keep returning to it.”
“It’s not enough to just say your food is responsibly sourced,” says Dorsey. “There has to be a real transparency, either through certifications or connecting with local organizations that have sustainability as a mission.”
Use “sensory literacy” to enhance the experience.
“Millennials are willing to pay more than other generations for a great food experience,” says Egan. “Go beyond the visuals of Instagram and appeal to all the senses to dramatically enhance their enjoyment of a meal.”