Millennials made more than 13 billion of the 59 billion visits made to foodservice establishments in 2010 and spent $73 billion dollars, according to The NPD Group, a market research company.

The generation's sales influence and size – there are currently 52 million Millennials ages 18 to 29 – will actually increase throughout the next 10 years, driven by immigration.

A recently released NPD foodservice market research report, "Reaching the Millennial Generation," examines the diversity among this age group, as well as the demographics' values, tastes and preferences regarding meals and snacks.

The report also found that foodservice operators are smart to offer greater menu variety to meet Millennials' interests.

"Millennials will overtake Baby Boomers as the most sought-after target for restaurateurs in the coming years," said Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst and author of the report. "In order to attract this generation, foodservice operators and manufacturers will need to understand both the similarities and differences among Millennials."

One of the collective behaviors among Millennials the report identifies is that they spend more than half of their foodservice dollars on ordering food for takeout. As a group, they spend a higher percent of their total foodservice dollars than other generations on snacks, and have a higher order incidence of snack food items such as ice cream, nuggets and mini sandwiches.

According to the report, Millennials differ from one another in a variety ways, including ethnic diversity. For example, one in five Millennials is Hispanic.

The working status of those within this age group also differs. Among the 1,933 Millennials surveyed for the report, 47 percent are full-time students, 9 percent are part-time students, and 44 percent are not a student. Forty-four percent are not employed, 30 percent work 35 or more hours a week, and 32 percent work less than 35 hours a week.

"Millennials are moving into their heavy foodservice using years, and this is the time to reach them to build their loyalty," said Riggs. "In reaching out to them, it's important to understand that Millennials are not a one-size-fits-all generation and their needs and wants are varied."

Read more about trends and statistics.

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