Restaurants' Future: Youth

May 17, 2010

Restaurants are not as busy these days, but there is a glimmer of hope for their future.

Restaurants are not as busy these days, but there is a glimmer of hope for their future. Take a peek inside, and it appears that the most promising cohorts of restaurant goers happens to be the Gen Y-ers (ages 25 to 34), with household incomes of $50,000; and those aged 18 to 24 years. This group is actually frequenting restaurants more often, with the intention of "just enjoying themselves" according to a new Packaged Facts report. The slightly younger crowd, those 18 to 24 are reported to spend the most on a per-meal basis and have larger party sizes, resulting in a significantly higher than average, 25 percent total spend per visit.  

The younger food crowd as well as those focused on healthy eating (or at least that's how they want to be perceived), are not dissimilar. These groups in particular are very technology oriented; they follow food and health blogs, receive restaurant updates on Twitter and Facebook, and by all means it could be said that they are living in a (semi-) culinary centric world. Just turn on the TV. Their desire for instant gratification is partially a result of being raised on the very basic principle of the internet - interconnectedness in seconds. They desire novelty, are aware of the issues affecting all aspects of the world and society, and if they don't know the answer, good old Google is just a click or tap away.

To this crowd, community is key; they want to sustain continual contact with friends, family, and information. For those providing their next meal, this means having online and mobile ordering capabilities, as well as updates and promotions privy to the tech savvy. What's better than receiving a facebook message on your mobile device regarding freshly picked or new menu creations as possibilities for your next meal.  

How can supermarkets attract this eating-out generation? These are young, vibrant consumers and are ready to spend for the sake of a good time. It's more than just price and convenience, not an attribute that most supermarkets understand. But there are retailers throughout the country who do. Schnuck's, Whole Foods and Wegman's, to name just a few, have built hip restaurants within their footprint that on many nights are so packed there is standing room only. Gourmet freshly prepared foods and exquisite wines fill the menus. Twenty years ago supermarkets fretted as they saw food dollars move to restaurants, and it wasn't until recently that we saw the dollars return due to the faltering economy. Prepare for this very valuable next generation now - and break your traditonal marketing by reaching out to them in the media they use on social networks, Twitter, Facebook, and target them with flavor and fun. 

More from Packaged Facts Consumer Restaurant Tracker service and "U.S. Foodservice Landscape 2010: Restaurant Industry and Consumer Trends" report can be found by 
clicking here.