Consumer Trends: Which Restaurants Win With Millennials?

Millennials (ages 19-34) have a distinct perspective on dining occasions, placing more value on attributes like social responsibility, sustainability, local and organic, grass-fed, and hormone-free offerings. They foster emotional connections to brands and their loyalty stems beyond experience.

CHICAGO, Ill. (PRNewswire) — Millennials are unique. They communicate differently, are self-expressive, confident, liberal, upbeat, and open to change. But marketing to them can be a challenge. This group (ages 19-34) has a distinct perspective on dining occasions, placing more value on attributes like social responsibility, sustainability, local, and organic, grass-fed, and hormone-free offerings. They foster emotional connections to brands and their loyalty stems beyond experience. 

"Millennials visit restaurants more frequently than any other generation," says Darren Tristano, Technomic EVP. "Restaurant operators are making consistent efforts to track the purchasing habits of Millennials and appeal to their unique need states. Success with today's Millennial consumer will depend on making an emotional connection and setting expectations." 

Technomic is helping restaurants and foodservice suppliers understand and respond to Millennials' dining preferences with two unique offerings. A new in-depth study for suppliers, Understanding the Foodservice Attitudes and Behaviors of Millennials, provides extensive consumer and operator insights across restaurant and non-commercial accounts, in addition to operators' best practices and unmet needs. Suppliers who join the study prior to launch also receive operator and consumer feedback on their top three product categories.  

Technomic's already-available Consumer Restaurant Brand Metrics program provides chains with a unique scorecard to benchmark performance against their peers and track results over time. Among 50 dimensions evaluated by the program, Millennials gave top marks to the following chains, by segment, on three highly-valued attributes.

Top-Ranking Chains on Three Dimensions Valued by Millennial Consumers
By Segment

Social Responsibility - Acting in a way that is good for the environment, treating employees well.

In-N-Out Burger – Quick Service
McAlister's Deli – Fast Casual
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store – Family-Style
Logan's Roadhouse – Casual Dining

Food Quality - For Millennials, food quality goes beyond taste and visual appeal, also incorporating sourcing elements such as grass-fed and free-range into their quality perception.

Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwich Shop – Quick Service
McAlister's Deli – Fast Casual
Cracker Barrel Old Country Store – Family-Style
Red Lobster – Casual Dining

Supports local community activities – Makes charitable contributions, supports community organizations.

Chik-fil-A – Quick Service
Corner Bakery Cafe – Fast Casual
Bob Evans – Family-Style
Bonefish Grill – Casual Dining

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