Survey finds Gen Zers, families lead the restaurant spend race
Enhancing convenience, focusing on families with kids and engaging Gen Zers are three ways restaurants can increase their bottom lines, according to a Technomic/Acosta survey of 1,500 Americans.
The fourth annual report, "The Why? Behind The Dine," showed that increasing numbers of U.S. diners are pretty spur-of-the-moment about their dining decisions, with 85 percent making their meal choices on the day of meal, according to a news release. That's a jump from the same number in 2015, according to the report whose authors said it also serves to provide some reasoning behind another survey revelation that sales of convenient meal solutions grew across almost every category and generation.
"We are seeing more diners take advantage of the seemingly endless array of meal solutions, be it a quick trip through the drive-thru, grocery prepared foods, lunch from a food truck, or preparing dinner using a meal/ingredient kit," Acosta Senior Vice President Colin Stewart said in the release.
As might be presumed, the survey found that delivery is an increasingly popular option for all ages, with 51 percent of those survey reporting ordering delivery in the previous three months. And among those respondants, millennials stole the show with 77 percent of the age group reporting have done so in that time. And here are the things they're ordering via delivery aside from that omnipresent home-delivered option of pizza:
- Burgers (28 percent)
- Wings (27 percent)
- Mexican (21 percent)
- Barbecue (14 percent)
- Desserts (11 percent).
Another area of foodservice seeing gains under this convenience headings involves online-ordered meal kits, which more than doubled in fans in two years, growing from 8 percent in 2015 to 18 percent this past November.
How to attract hot groups for higher spends
Families with kids and newly adult "kids" are the big spenders among those who dine out, with Gen Z diners already outpacing groups like Boomers in reported monthly spending on food prepared outside the home. Likewise, families with youngsters spent more twice as much eating out monthly than those without kids. Families without kids spent an average of $95 monthly, while those with kids spent an average of $208 monthly.
How best to attract these two high-rolling restaurant groups? The survey offered insight here, too, including findings like the fact that 58 percent of Gen Zers go online to pick a place to eat, often in search of deals and much more often than other generations. Also, nearly 70 percent of this generation likes it when they have spare restaurant food to take with them for another meal. These findings show the importance of special promotions and options for super-sizing orders (to provide those leftovers) for brands that might want to capture more Gen Zers.
The survey found that the best way to entice diners with kids is to include healthy menu options like salads and lots of locally sourced ingredients, along with the marketing to make this evident. In fact, 46 percent of diners with kids reported eating more salads over the last year
Likewise, many of these families are millennial-headed so it's no wonder they often plug in right along with their kids when eating out. Brands targeting these big spenders might offer both dine-in and carry-out options that give families ways to plug in, but still, stay engaged as a family. With the survey finding that 28 percent of respondents in this group reporting hopping on Wi-Fi while eating out, it's an opportunity waiting restaurateur innovation.