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Today, the U.S. population spans five generations: Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Baby Boomers and Silent generation. With differing tastes and preferences, each generation has the ability to influence new menu items.

So how are restaurants and foodservice operators handling the diverse tastes of each generation? As one of thirteen topics studied within IFMA’s Consumer Planning Program 2017 report, Consumer Planning Program looked at the different away-from-home traits that shape generational need trends. Gen Z enjoys a variety of ethnic cuisines while Millennials appreciate food experiences with authentic global flavors. Gen X values healthy meals in a cool, hip setting while Baby Boomers prefer traditional restaurant formats with familiar tastes. 

The study also uncovers that affordability is important to all consumers, but generations have different interpretations of value.  Mature consumers are more likely to judge value by the basic definition of quality for price, whereas younger consumers are more likely to take advantage of discounts, coupons and menu specials.

Technology has drastically changed how restaurants communicate with consumers. According to the study, younger consumers are more likely to engage with restaurants online as 42% of Millennials use Facebook and 23% of Gen Z use restaurant apps. The mature consumer is more likely to avoid online engagement as 50% of Baby Boomers and 65% of Silent reported they do not use any online channels surveyed. However, the largest audience across generations engaged with restaurants through Facebook, restaurant websites and review sites like Yelp.

Ultimately, the foodservice industry must adapt to the ever-changing tastes and menu preferences of the consumer, but most importantly, understand the different nuances of each generation and how to satisfy their diverse needs.

To learn more about generational preferences and other trending industry topics, the 2017 CPP study is available for purchase. Additionally, the 2018 Consumer Planning Program is kicking off in May. If you are interested in joining the Consumer Planning Program or purchasing the 2017 CPP study report, contact Mike Schwartz at mike@ifmaworld.com

Click here for more information about the Consumer Planning Program.