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    Convenience Still on Top for Younger Diners

    Mintel study finds many want quick, easy, close-to-home meals.

    CHICAGO -- Restaurants and foodservice establishments serving up convenience are poised to do well in this post-recession economy, suggests a new report from Mintel . The study showed that although value has become the mantra of many contemporary diners, convenience still resonates with the out-to-eat crowd, especially those under age 34.

    Over half of younger adults rank a restaurant's proximity to their workplace as very important/important when selecting where to dine (62 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds and 55 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds, versus 41 percent of all respondents). The ability to order online ahead of time is also essential to young, time-strapped consumers (31 percent of 25- to 34-year-olds and 24 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds, vs. 19 percent overall). The younger demographics also rank extended hours (i.e. late-night) and speed-of-service highly in their restaurant selection processes.

    "Though value remains important to diners in this economy, our survey reveals convenience may be equally important. Young adults and young families, especially, are pressed for time, making restaurants an easy and often necessary solution for meals. As foodservice establishments struggle for revenue, improving convenience may help them get diners in the door," stated Chris Haack, senior analyst at Mintel.

    While 43 percent of respondents told Mintel they've cut spending on delivery and takeout this year, approximately one in six 18-34 year-olds say they're spending more on these convenient services compared to 2008. In the past three months, 18-34s were twice as likely as the general population to have ordered delivery. Approximately 30 percent of them picked up food from a restaurant, compared to 20 percent of all respondents.

    Restaurants make mealtime easier, especially for 25 to 34 year-olds, many of whom work full-time or have young children. Nearly half (49 percent) say they dine at casual restaurants because they're too tired to cook, while 40 percent do so because they have no time to prepare a meal. (This compares to 40 percent and 30 percent of all respondents, respectively.)

    But special occasions, food quality and socialization remain top reasons that younger adults go to restaurants. "Restaurant usage is truly integrated into the lifestyles of adults under age 34. Many people value the fact that they can get quality food with minimal effort at a restaurant. As a bonus, they can spend that meal time with friends or family," comments Chris Haack.

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