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Millennial Generation a Growing Force in Foodservice

Demographic continues to grow in numbers and is about to enter its prime foodservice spending years, according to a NPD report.

During a time when most commercial foodservice operators continue to scratch and claw their way toward new customers, a new report by The NPD Group sheds some new light on a key demographic that will keep growing and evolving in the years to come.

"Millennials will overtake Baby Boomers as the most sought-after target for restaurateurs in the coming years," says Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst and author of the report Reaching the Millennial Generation. "In order to attract this generation, foodservice operators and manufacturers will need to understand both the similarities and differences among Millennials."

Millennials made more than 13 billion of the 59 billion visits made to foodservice establishments in 2010 and spent $73 billion, according to The NPD Group. The clout this generation holds is largely due to its size: there are currently 52 million people who fall in this 18- to 29-year-old age group. What's more, NPD expects this market segment will continue to grow in the next ten years due to immigration.

One of the collective behaviors among Millennials the report identifies is that they spend over half of their foodservice dollars on ordering food for takeout. As a group they spend a higher percent of their total foodservice dollars than other generations on snacks, and have a higher order incidence of snack food items like ice cream, nuggets and mini sandwiches.

"Millennials are moving into their heavy foodservice using years, and this is the time to reach them to build their loyalty," says Riggs. "In reaching out to them, it's important to understand that Millennials are not a one-size-fits-all generation and their needs and wants are varied."