Lots of trends have been released about what we can expect from consumers in 2017—but what about over the next decade? The first day of Technomic’sConsumer Insights Planning Program conference provided that long-range view, drawing an audible "Wow!" from one of the 100-plus attendees and prompting others to scratch down quick notes.
Here are three of the aha moments.
1. Educated working families gain in importance
“Highly educated working families are a core restaurant consumer that’s overlooked, and their disposable income is only growing,” said Rich Shank, Technomic's director of consumer insights. This subset of consumers represents 16% of the total foodservice population, but 36% of total foodservice spend, according to Shank.
He cited Pew data to suggest one reason this cohort is so reliant on foodservice. According to Pew, 60% of higher-educated working women have two or more kids today, compared to only 51% a decade ago.
So what do these foodservice-reliant, high-earning families want? Shank says food quality above all, as well as healthful options and convenient takeout service. And, he noted, these mobile users love to share photos of their food on social media.
2. Older Gen Xers will act differently
Consumers aged 60 and up in 2027 will be a lot different than the consumers in this age bracket today, according to Shank. Due to their changing life stage—especially as Gen Xers approach 60—Shank says their dining decisions will revolve less around children and more around them and their partners.
If nothing else, these consumers will be a lot more tech-savvy than grandparents today, according to Shank. Technomic data showed that 29% of Gen Xers and baby boomers’ mobile orders are placed through a restaurant app, which is the same as millennials and more than Gen Zers. Shank cautioned brands from ignoring their 60-plus guests online in years to come.
3. Snacks will be the new normal meal
Technomic data showed that 83% of consumers say they snack at least once a day in 2016, compared to 75% of consumers who said the same in 2012—and roughly 50% who said the same back in 2008. Snacks will become even more of a foodservice meal norm over the next decade, said Sara Monnette, Technomic's VP of research and insights.
She attributes much of this to young consumers’ behavior. Two-fifths of Gen Zers and millennials consume prepared snacks away from home, compared to a quarter of consumers overall. And although 70% of all snacks consumed are packaged retail products, the portion that is prepared continues to grow.