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CHICAGO — Gen Xers can step out of the shadow of baby boomers and millennials, and take center stage as an important customer base for restaurants, reported The NPD Group.
Generation X — demographically defined as those ages 36 to 52 — now represents 23 percent of all restaurant visits. This is not a significant difference from boomers and millennials, who represent 26 and 25 percent of visits, respectively.
"Boomers and millennials still make the most visits to restaurants and foodservice outlets, but gen Xers aren't far behind," said Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. "Many gen Xers are looking to the convenience and experience restaurants offer because their kids are older and more independent."
With restaurant growth stalled in recent years, restaurant operators are looking to increase their traffic share wherever they can, and a focus on generation X — which represents 20 percent of the U.S. population — could be among the answers, according to the NPD study, What Matters Most To Key Generational Groups.
The study is based on NPD's Checkout Tracking service, which analyzes real receipts from actual consumers and can follow the same consumer's purchasing behavior over time, and details what is key in targeting each generational group.
Gen Xers enjoy dining out and, because they are more likely to have dual income, are more likely to have the money to do it. They place high importance on food quality, the ability to customize and craving satisfaction, the study found.
"In a competitive environment it's important for restaurant operators to understand how to gain the attention of important consumer groups," Riggs added. "With a better understanding of what matters most to key generational groups, marketers can address the unique needs/behaviors of these consumers and create strategies to enhance engagement and increase sales by building loyalty among those groups most important to their business."