Millennials Use of Restaurants Changes as Lifestyles Change

Wine & Cheese
Wine & Cheese by Thomas Hawk

CHICAGO —Millennials are the chosen generation for many marketers because of their sheer numbers and perceived buying power. But they are not a homogeneous group.

Depending on age and lifestyles, they use restaurants differently, according to a recently released report by foodservice researcher The NPD Group. For U.S. restaurants and foodservice outlets, Millennials as a group currently represent about 14.5 billion visits and $96 billion in spending, which is 23 percent of total restaurant spend, but the group has cut back in both visits and spending, finds the NPD report.

Older Millennials, ages 25 to 34, who are more likely to have families, have cut back the most on restaurant visits, making 50 fewer visits per person over the past several years, according to NPD's Encouraging More Visits from Millennials report. Younger Millennials, those who are 18 to 24 years old, made 33 fewer visits per person. Annual per capita restaurant spend for younger Millennials is $1,240, which is down $146 per person compared to their spending in 2007, and older Millennials' annual per capita spend is $1,369, down $213 per person.

NPD finds that the reasons why Millennials are cutting back on visiting restaurants are varied; however, foremost is their concern about the money they spend at foodservice, particularly Millennial families with children. They indicate restaurants can be too expensive and that it is cheaper to eat at home. Millennials say that they are cooking at home more often as many "don't at all mind to do so."

About half actually claim to like to cook. In addition to saving money, Millennials feel better about cooking at home because they consider it healthier and better tasting than what they can buy outside.

"Even with their cutbacks Millennials still make a lot of visits to restaurants," says NPD's Bonnie Riggs. "To encourage more visits, restaurant operators need to offer them a 'good deal,' which to Millennials means reasonable and affordable items that are of good quality and the right quantity," adds the restaurant analyst. "In other words, they not only want to get their money's worth, they want good food and service."

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