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Consumer Trends

Move over, millennials—baby boomers are good restaurant customers too

Operators shouldn’t jeopardize business by wooing younger consumers to the exclusion of older diners.
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Millennials get a lot of attention from restaurant operators and chefs, but baby boomers make up a large and lucrative group of potential patrons that shouldn’t be ignored. So finds Technomic’s 2018 Generational Consumer Trend Report, which notes that more than half of people between the ages of 53 and 72 use foodservice on a weekly basis. And many are working beyond the age of 65, which translates to more spending power. How to capture these customers? Here's a look at the factors that drive their food choices and restaurant visits. 

 

technomic generational consumer trend report

Boomers are flavor seekers

There’s a perception that because these consumers are older, they are stuck in their ways. But this generation are most likely to say they enjoy trying new flavors from time to time, according to the Technomic report. In fact, 66% of respondents like to explore new flavors, especially when they are added to perennial favorites, such as burgers and chicken.

Boomers are brand loyal

Just as this age group takes comfort in trying new flavors in familiar foods, boomers also like to patronize familiar restaurants. Thirty-six percent tend to visit the same few restaurants each time they go out to eat. However, this older generation priortizes food quality and taste more than other age groups—70% say taste is an important menu attribute and 68% value food quality.

Boomers like deals

Although Gen Xers are the most likely to seek deals and discounts at restaurants (55% say they do so), baby boomers come in a close second at 50%. Along with taste and quality, price entices this group to visit a restaurant, especially in the quick-service segment.

Boomers are flexitarians

More than other generations, this group of consumers rarely follows restrictive diets such as Atkins and paleo. Instead, they are looking for flexible eating plans that include a variety of better-for-you food choices. While few baby boomers are full-time vegetarians, more than 50% say they plan to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables.

Boomers value cleanliness

Dirty restaurants are a turnoff for this older group of customers. Cleanliness matters, with 63% of boomers saying it is a very important attribute in restaurants, especially as it applies to clean bathrooms and utensils.

Boomers are picky about takeout

Older customers are more demanding when it comes to off-premise eating. Order accuracy is essential to 70% of baby boomers, and 75% expect the food quality and taste to be as good as it is when dining in the restaurant. Convenience is just not as important to this generation as it is to millennials and Gen Zers, according to the Technomic report.

Boomers want personalized service

Although this generation is pretty tech-savvy and will place online orders from a computer, they are the least likely to order from a mobile device or app. And boomers are not in favor of cashless operations and kiosk ordering at restaurants. Customer service is key, especially in casual dining.

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