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customers at a restaurant

Generational Preferences in Foodservice

Every American falls into a generational category; the generation dependent on the individual’s birth year. Alive today range from the Greatest Generation, the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Gen Z. Generations form through common experiences and current events that shape the individuals in their age group. For example, the Vietnam War significantly impacted the Baby Boomers, while technology impacted their Millennial children. In general, generations each have certain preferences in which they base their consumer behavior. Scholars spend time studying these behaviors to assist the manufacturer or business owner. Different generational preferences include fashion, entertainment, language, work ethic, spending habits and even food.

The Older Generational Preferences

Restaurants must take note of generational preferences in food and dining out. However, Baby Boomers are usually the oldest generation eating out. The consumer’s generation heavily influences the choice of when and where to eat out, as well as what to purchase.  Many factors influence these preferences including free time, finances and children. Baby Boomers usually dine at the traditional restaurants that sell comfort food. According to an article written by Rita Negrete, this generation also eats out at more full-service restaurant than any other. However, do not assume this generation has the largest bill. Generation X spends the most money on a night out. These individuals do not worry about menu price. This stat is likely due to the fact that this generation has a generally high household income with steady jobs. They also prefer restaurants that promote authenticity and upscale items.

The Younger Generational Preferences

The largest gap between generations in regards to dining preferences is likely between Generation X and Millennials. Millennials tend to dine out for the experience rather than the food. To Millennials, restaurants serve as a social setting more than anything else. A Bloomberg.com article speculates that the Millennials are the reason that last year, dining out sales passed grocery sales for the first time in American history. Millennials flock to restaurants that offer something unique or authentic and serve food boasting natural and fresh labels.  Millennials are one a larger generation, second to Baby Boomers, so scholars suggest paying close attention to their dining preferences. Generation Z, very similar to Millennials, enjoy restaurants that provide natural, unprocessed, or sustainable food. Scholars consider Gen Z the digital generation, they love online ordering and digital marketing.

Each generation has the ability to influence food trends, menu items and restaurant products.  Many studies take into account generational eating habits and describe important factors that influence these habits. Consider these studies when planning and creating menus and marketing pieces for your restaurant.

Valentine's Day

2017 Valentine’s Day Trends

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and although not a national holiday, restaurants treat this day more special than most. Valentine’s Day is celebrated across the globe, with origination in Rome back in the 3rd Century. Although the legends of Valentine’s Day beginnings differ, today we have come to know February 14th as a day for lovers. Here in the United States, restaurants see this as a huge day for sales. The holiday is the second busiest day of the year in the restaurant business, only behind Mother’s Day.

Valentine’s Day Statistics

American’s spend $147 each year on Valentine’s Day, 7 million of that towards dining out. The average couple will spend $147 on February 14th. Singles spend money too. On this holiday single men on average $40 while single women spend an average of $71. This increase in dining from both couples and singles gives restaurants everywhere an extra $$$ on the bill than a usual night out. No matter the relationship status, Americans are willing to spend a few more dollars on this holiday than the average Tuesday. With such an increase in sales, restaurants must take note as to what customers want to eat.

Valentine’s Day Dining Trends

Remember also, Valentine’s Day is not just for couples anymore. “Galentine’s Day” and single’s parties are cause to celebrate as well. However, couples and singles celebrate different. AaronAllen and Associates state that couples would rather have an experience on Valentine’s Day than receive gifts. A great way to incorporate this preference is giving your customers an amazing night at a restaurant. Fill their dining out experience with great service and food. Couples gravitate towards ethnic foods like Italian, French and Spanish cuisines. However, cuisine is not always the deciding factor on where to eat. 42% of diners will choose their favorite restaurant to celebrate this special day. Singles however, tend to order take-out or delivery. Eater states that  pizza, wings and egg rolls dominate their orders. Do not forget about dessert. Chocolate reigns supreme on Valentine’s Day as 50% of consumers prefer some sort of cocoa treat as dessert.

This February 14th, take both singles and couples into consideration when planning your restaurant menu. Remember to incorporate a great experience for those who dine in and a carry-out option for those eating at home. As diners flock to restaurants this year, remember your customer’s needs and you will have a very successful Valentine’s Day.

Holiday Dining Increases

The holiday season brings along a flurry of changes to everyday living. The weather begins to change, kids have a break from school, and employees receive time-off. The lucky ones get a bonus check with it.  As the season changes; consumer behavior, as well as spending habits and preferences change in restaurants. Restaurants must take full awareness of these changes as this has a large influence on their eateries. Customers are very likely start dining out more during the holidays.

Dining Out While Shopping

According to MasterCard Spending Pulse, holiday season restaurant sales have increased between 4.2% and 6.4% every year since 2010. Not surprising. We asked customers if they are more likely to dine out during the holidays and more than 65% answered yes. This data is the result of a few factors. For one, the holidays bring people out shopping and shoppers get hungry. For those who spend hours out shopping, a restaurant is the perfect spot to take a break. Of those that said they dine out more during the holidays, 43% said they dine out because they are shopping. Restaurants also see an increase of sales because of gift cards. Many shoppers purchase gift cards as a quick and easy gift to give to relatives, friends and coworkers.

Dining Out with Good Company

The atmosphere also plays in to why restaurant sales increase during the holidays. The holiday season brings families and friends together, and they are more willing to spend money this time of year. Of those surveyed, over 50% said that bringing family and friends together is a reason to go out and spend money on a nice meal. With the recent increase of the economy, more consumers feel they have the ability to dine out. This is especially true after many employees receive bonuses or holiday gifts from their employer. Consumers see dining out as a sort of holiday gift for themselves.

The holiday season is underway and restaurants must prepare for the increase of customers throughout the holiday season. As consumers flood shopping malls and centers to purchase gifts, they will also take a seat in your restaurant. Whether shopping alone, or out to celebrate with family and friends, restaurant goers are more willing to spend money on a bite to eat. Remember, tis the season to be jolly so as customers walk in, greet them with a smile that is merry and bright.