Boomers Dine Out While Millennials Cut Back

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Boomers Dine Out While Millennials Cut Back


According to The NPD Group, The baby boomer generation and their seniors – also known as “mature traditionalists” – have staked an increasing proportion of the commercial foodservice industry’s traffic during the past five years, while visits from the millennial generation have declined.

According to The NPD’s recent report -- “Boomers and Beyond – Targeting for Success,” which delves into what seniors expect from restaurant visits, the menu items they prefer, and what restaurant operators can do to attract and retain their business – members of the boomer generation are making more visits to every segment of the restaurant industry now than prior to the recession.

Historically, older consumers were less frequent restaurant visitors than those in younger age groups and so received less marketing attention as efforts generally were made to reach the heaviest buyers, according to the report. The visit rate for older restaurant consumers is now the same as it is for those younger. Boomers and older have increased their share of restaurant traffic by six percentage points since 2008, while millennials have decreased their share by six percentage points.

“A lot of restaurant marketing dollars are aimed at millennials but market share capture remains the growth path for restaurant operators, just as it has been for the past five years,” said Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. “Gaining market share among population segments increasing in both number and their use of restaurants, like Boomers, eases the struggle. Operators just need to keep in mind that reaching the older customers requires recognizing what it is they want from their restaurant experiences.”

Restaurant traffic has improved slightly since the recession -- traffic was up 1 percent for year ending September 2012, according to NPD’s Crest foodservice market research -- although levels remain below those in 2008. Morning meal visits have completely recovered to pre-recession levels -- up 2 percent for year ending September 2012 – traced entirely to increased visiting by older boomers and mature traditionalists. These older consumers are also providing support for recovery of lost supper visits. Viewing visits per capita, older boomers are now heavier users (most frequent) of restaurant morning meals and supper than any other age group.

The NPD Group provides comprehensive consumer and retail information to more than 2,000 manufacturers, retailers, and service companies to help them drive critical business decisions at the global, national, and local market levels.