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CHICAGO -- The majority of consumer research has centered on Millennials over the past few years. However, Generation Z -- the first true digital generation -- is the future.
In its first look at this up-and-coming generation, Technomic Inc.'s new Generational Consumer Trend Report examines the needs and behaviors of Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers. In total, these four generations account for 74 percent of the U.S. population and make up the bulk of today's foodservice consumers.
Gen Z is a generation on the move that strongly prioritizes speed of service, technology and having what they want, when they want it. Millennials, more so than older generations, prefer to visit restaurants that offer new and unique foods and flavors. Gen X and Boomers converge on several preferences, such as the importance of a convenient location, according to Technomic.
"Each generational group may have distinctly different foodservice needs, yet there are opportunities to leverage their similarities and target specific customer groups without alienating others," said Sara Monnette, senior director, consumer insights for the research firm.
"Regardless of the generation, it's vital for restaurant operators and suppliers to understand their core audience," she continued. "So, whether you're working to appeal to your Boomer base through dine-in ambiance or traditional menu offerings, or drawing in younger guests with faster service and an innovative menu, successful execution can begin with identifying and addressing what each group values as a generation."
Key findings in Technomic's Generational Consumer Trend Report include:
- Gen Zers and Millennials tend to be more optimistic about and reliant on foodservice. They're more likely than older generations to anticipate increasing their foodservice visits in the next year.
- Dining-format preferences vary by generation. Boomers are most likely to visit restaurants for dine-in, Gen Z is most likely to order takeout and Millennials are most likely to opt for delivery.
- Speedy service is key for the youngest generation. For example, Gen Z places the highest importance on fast service at limited-service restaurants (54 percent), compared to Millennials (40 percent), Gen Xers (41 percent) and Baby Boomers (43 percent).