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Drawing Teens and Tweens Into Restaurants Requires Targeted Marketing

CHICAGO (January 5, 2012 - PRNewswire)—Tweens and teens influence the decision making of their friends and families, playing a large role in their dining choices. Fifty-eight percent of teens and 54 percent of tweens report that their family decides together which full-service restaurant to visit. Tweens and teens have very distinct foodservice attitudes and behaviors, which justifies a differentiated marketing strategy that targets their specific needs and desires.

Technomic Director of Consumer Research Sara Monnette says “Our youth play an integral part in the family dining experience, often participating in decisions on where and what to eat. On the other hand, a majority of their dining behaviors derive from outside influences, most notably, friends.  Through our analysis we developed six basic socio-behavioral youth consumer segments to help evaluate the effects of these outside influences on their decision making.”

“Today's tweens and teens are a diverse population, even within demographic and age segments,” says Ian Davidson, Senior Manager, Brand Insights at C3. “They can often be difficult for marketers to understand and engage. Brands that are successful with tweens and teens will need to demonstrate a tiered strategy to reach this powerful group of consumers.”

In order to better understand the foodservice and lifestyle attitudes of today’s youth, Technomic and C3 have released The Dining Habits of Tweens and Teens. The report provides an overview of attitudes toward national restaurant chains, food preferences, dining-out behaviors with friends and family, kids’ menu preferences, snacking behavior, convenience-store patronage, technology usage, music purchases and clothing brand preferences based on survey results from 1,500 consumers. Appendices to this report outline key lifestyle indicators of today’s youth, background of youth consumer segments, and sample demographics.

Interesting findings include:

  • Teens may be suffering from fast-food or brand fatigue; new and exciting foodservice concepts are most likely to appeal to them.
  • Snacking tends to decrease in frequency as youth get older, but the quantity of food eaten may increase. For example, 60 percent of 8- to 9-year-olds report that they snack every day, compared to 47 percent of those aged 10 to 12, and 38 percent of teens. Teens are slightly more likely than tweens to report snacking a lot (22 percent vs. 18 percent of tweens).
  • Because the attitudes and behaviors of tweens and teens reflect specific life stages, foodservice operators and suppliers may find success by tailoring menu offerings and marketing strategies to fit these stages.  As an example, the majority of tweens report that they wish restaurants would provide a separate menu for kids their age.

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