Generational Shift in Dining Experience – Millennials Stumble - By John Hendrie

2012-11-13
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  • LRA Worldwide In Hospitality, we are seeing quite a few changes with our audience seeking a more varied and exciting Experience

    In Hospitality, we are seeing quite a few changes with our audience seeking a more varied and exciting Experience, greater satisfaction and value for that Consumer dollar, and some respect (bringing Rodney Dangerfield’ lament some credibility). Folks believe we are at a cliff, certainly fiscally as a Nation, and their enthusiasm wanes, seen dramatically on the Restaurant front.

    We have dealt with the “trickle down” effect, where those who once dined in first class establishments are now drifting to the more casual, and that casual crowd moving into the QSR realm. But, there is one shift which has caught many flat-footed – that Millennial generation is now dining in restaurants less frequently. As reported by USA Today the results of a survey by the NPD Group of 2.400 adults, aged 18 to 34 nationwide, “Millennials are eating out roughly once a week less than the same age group's eating habits in 2007”. This is huge!

    If you have children in this age group, you know they are noshing all the time. Their refrigerators have bottles of beer, some ketchup, pickles and other condiments. Rarely is there anything that remotely looks like dinner, rather only the garnishes to a meal. As a “Boomer”, I go wait a minute – at that age I was married, had children and a restaurant visit was special. To the Millennial, it is (or was) a common, everyday occurrence. That has changed, and according to Harry Balzer, of the NPD Group, “"This is a shift of biblical proportions for the restaurant industry," They were the largest restaurant users.

    It appears that recessionary times have caught up to them, many are unemployed and some have even moved back into their childhood homes, awaiting some type of rebound, economically. At least one benefit may be Mom’s home cooking, but the local bistro, hamburger joint, pub or usual hub for gathering suffers. Millennials will eat out 202 times annually versus 252 times a year back in 2007. That is a significant loss of business.

    Marketing and delivery opportunities abound; however, the market share battle will be brutal. Social media is their main communication tool, and they are very connected. I would think that our savvy restaurateurs will focus on these tools to communicate and influence dining choice. But, it all starts with the relationship, the data you have and the analytics you use to give you market insight. This is simply too valuable a generation to lose!



    LRA Worldwide is a leading research and consulting company in the emerging discipline of Customer Experience Management (CEM). We work with our clients to help them design and deliver consistently exceptional customer experiences in order to drive customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy, and company growth and profitability. We have built a range of quality assurance, mystery shopping, research, training and consulting solutions to help them do so.

    Today, we are a growing company operating in more than 120 countries throughout the world, servicing our clients from offices and resources in the Americas, EMEA and Asia Pacific regions and helping clients such as Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, the National Football League, Avis Budget Group, Madison Square Garden, the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas and Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group deliver exceptional customer experiences. Every touch. Every time. For more information, visit us at www.LRAworldwide.com.

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