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How Millennials are changing the foodservice industry

Millennials are what we call people born in the period from the early 1980s to the late 1990s. And for this generation, often also called Generation Y, independence ranks high in their scale of values. In a trend study by the Zukunftsinstitut, which surveyed around 500 people aged between 20 and 35, it was found that independence, autonomy and particularly self-realisation are central values for that age group: “For 89 percent of those questioned, independence and the ability to determine one’s life oneself are particularly important goals.” Having fun, and enjoying life are likewise a firm characteristics of Generation Y goals which score 87 percent agreement.

How millennials are changing the foodservice industry
As many young restaurant visitors expecting menus to satisfy increasingly specific demands, a new study from Germany demonstrates how millennials are changing foodservice

But what does the individualised, hedonistic lifestyle of this population group mean for food services? In a survey by the online order platform Opentable, for which around 2,000 people were questioned between January and February 2019, 10 percent of millennials stated that they preferred vegetarian dishes. Only 3 percent of respondents among the older generation identified with this diet. Thus, in the age group of 20 to 35 year-olds there are around three times more vegetarians than among older generations.

Young restaurant visitors also require suitably meat-free dishes from the menus. 32 year-old Kanwal Gill, who founded the Indian food service concept Eatdoori in Frankfurt in 2015 and currently operates four outlets (Frankfurt (2), Mainz, Cologne), says: “From the start our range placed a strong focus on vegetarian dishes. And these have become very popular among our guests.”

In general, the expectations which guests bring to food service is high: 55 percent of those surveyed by Opentable expect that proper notice will be taken of their individual wishes when specifying the dish, they have ordered, or at least that an alternative can be offered.

“Almost just as many – viz. 46 percent – want to see clear labelling of allergens on the menu,” the study shows. In addition, 11 percent of the millennials in the survey stated that they pretend to have a food allergy, though they merely don’t want an ingredient in the dish. Sociologists adduce, as reasons for an alleged or felt intolerance, a “subject dramatisation”, to be used for profiling. Older generations, too, make use of such fib-telling but, according to Opentable, they only number about 6 percent. But whether an intolerance is feigned or actually exists, the demand for lactose or gluten free dishes is increasing.

Social Media Cannot Be Ignored

“In the matter of selecting restaurants, millennials also act differently. As is well known, they are assiduous users of social media – when it comes to visiting restaurants, too: while more than half – a full 57 percent – of millennials use social media to find a restaurant, this is true of only 29 percent of the older generations,” the study continues. So, it comes as no surprise that new concepts such as Eatdoori employ their own social-media manager.

“Our aim is to attract our guests into the restaurant via their social networks. With this in mind, we invent creative content and try to involve our followers. That creates esteem”, says Gill, summarising his brand’s strategy. The restaurateur is sure that communication with the guests will shift even further into the internet. “A social-media manager is absolutely necessary nowadays for food-service concepts”, says Gill.

Of great additional importance for millennials when selecting a restaurant, according to the order-platform study, are online evaluations by other guests. The study states that 70 percent of millennials trust the judgement of other restaurant visitors on internet portals, while on the other hand, only 26 percent of this generation trust professional reviews in newspapers or magazines.

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