CHICAGO -- Generation Z, Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers total about 74% of the U.S. population -- and make up the bulk of today's foodservice consumers. Technomic recently examined the behaviors of each generation, including a first look at Gen. Z, to uncover a number of differences and similarities by cohort.
Gen Z (birth dates from mid-1990s to mid-2000s) is the first true digital generation and represents the future foodservice consumer. They're a generation on the move that strongly prioritizes speed of service, technology, and having what they want when they want it. Millennials, more than older generations, prefer to visit restaurants that offer new and unique foods and flavors. Gen X and Boomers converge on several preferences, such as the importance of convenient location.
"Each generational group may have distinctly different foodservice needs, yet there are opportunities to leverage their similarities and target specific customer groups without alienating others," said Sara Monnette, senior director of consumer insights of Technomic.
Technomic found that the Z and Millennial Generations tend to be more optimistic about and reliant on foodservice. They're more likely than older generations to anticipate increases in foodservice visits in the next year.
Of all generations, the research firm claims, Boomers are most likely to visit restaurants for dine-in, while Gen Z cohorts are most likely to order takeout. Millennials are most likely to opt for delivery.
Technomic's research also found that speedy service is key for the youngest generation: Gen Z places the highest importance on fast service at limited-menu restaurants (54 %), compared with just two-fifths of Millennials (40%), Gen Xers (41%) and Baby Boomers (43%).