Baby Boomers Aren’t Ready to Move Over for Millennials Just Yet

July 8, 2014

In recent years the food service industry has primarily given it’s attention to millennials and how to market to this group.  What are they eating?  Where do they frequent?  How much money do they spend?  Confession…I am a millennial.  And like a typical millennial, of course, I believe my generation should be the focus of every product and service out there.  However, after a recent visit from my parents, I’ve begun to rethink another group of consumers; baby boomers.  Upon deciding where to go to dinner one evening, it seemed my baby boomer parents had  some serious opinions on what they liked and where they wanted to go, prompting me to think….just how often do ma and pa dine out?  As it would turn out; a lot!

Similar to millennials, baby boomers, evoke strong reactions in many people, but, like it or not, this group still holds a significant portion of buying power today.  This, in part, is due to the fact that baby boomes are retiring later than expected and earning higher salaries than their younger counter-parts, giving them more disposable income.  But maybe more so, baby boomers simply have a different attitude when it comes to dining out.  Baby boomers were the first generation to grow up with fast food.  They influenced several key trends such as drive-thrus and delivery.  The tastes and styles of baby boomers have, arguably, laid the foundation of the fast-casual service we know today.

 A recent study by market research group, NPD, shows that, since 2008, baby boomers have increased their share of restaurant traffic by six percentage points, whereas millennials have decreased their traffic by that exact same amount.  That’s not to say that we should just completely forget about millennials, but that perhaps we shouldn’t put all our eggs in one basket, as the saying goes.  The ironic part of these two segments is that, despite difference in age and technology, they aren’t that disimilar.  Both baby boomers and millennials are large in population and both make healthier decisions when it comes to menu choices, so perhaps our marketing strategies won’t have to change dramatically to accomodate both generations.  It will be interesting to see how both of these groups evolve and inflence the food service industry in the coming years and, in turn, how we in the industry will respond to them.