Food For Thought

Are millennials gaining their social acceptance dining out, as opposed to wearing the latest trends?

Millenials are said to be ruining the diamond market, the housing market, napkins, and god forbid they’re also done with soap bars! One thing they seem to be altering (and perhaps for the better) is how we eat. Whether it’s being open minded and eating anything, or changing up what the experience means, it’s undeniable that this wide group of young people are mixing up the hospitality industry. The true question is, as a venue is your growth strategy aligned with this change?

I am in the fortunate position of being able to travel the country visiting the latest and greatest hotels, pubs, and restaurants. As I work with these venues, I have seen an enormous change in up and coming young people opening fun and funky venues. It is almost impossible to just rock up and expect a table - these venues have queues of people waiting to get in! (And now the queue is a trend too, but that’s a tale for another time.)

I continued to ask myself; do millennials prioritize food over fashion?

The millennial generation is poised to leave its mark on the world - and part of this mark is that their dollars are in the cash registers of restaurants and bars alike.

The link between avo toast and mortgages has been done to death, but statistics are continuing to show that more and more young people are ordering their smashed avo with crumbed feta on five-grain toast for brunch at $22 a pop, and more! Let’s not forget that this generally is paired with a soy, extra caramel, double cappa frappa at another $8. With ever increasing property costs, is it practical for the youth of today to prioritise that healthy breakfast over paying off that seemingly never ending mortgage?

I then asked myself this question... Is food really just food, or is it becoming a community and lifestyle - was this, in fact, a factor in the debate of prioritising food over fashion? Are young people choosing social experiences like brunch over materialistic goods like clothes?

Studies show that millennials care more about healthy food than previous generations. Additionally, a recent survey consulted 2,000 adults and found that 89% of millennials would rather save their $50 than spend it on a pair of jeans. Learning this sparked a lot of interest. Do you gain more social acceptance dining at the latest and greatest restaurant than wearing the latest trends?

Restaurants meals and drinks are high on the list of what millennials like to spend their money on - ranking above consumer electronics apparel, footwear, beauty and cosmetic products, and accessories. Research shows that millennials eat out more often than non-millennials (3.4 versus 2.8 times per week) regardless of their income or household composition. This certainly is a shift from my younger years. I wonder if it is in fact the social age in which we live that drives this need to be seen, be liked and of course Instagram and Snapchat where you are and what you are doing?

This research has reinforced my observations that millenials eat at restaurants during off-peak hours twice as often as non-millennials, a behavior that appears to be generational, not just related to life stage. They also have different food preferences including fast, fast-casual, take-out, Asian, exotic, and organic foods more than non-millenials, who prefer seafood and steak. (Carbs vs protein….. Oh my lord where do we begin!) Compared to other generations, millennials are also much more likely to eat out with friends and coworkers, enhancing the social aspect of food.

It seems that millennials are in a transition, expansive, an exploratory life stage in which their attitudes, beliefs, preference, and rituals are emerging and evolving. But how this relates back to the hospitality industry is the true question.

So yes, research is showing that millennials are continuing to prioritise food over fashion. My question is for our dining venues, is your growth strategy aligned to this new found research?