Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom…Boomers Are the “It” Generation for Restaurants

Boom, boom, boom, boom…

Back in the 80′s there was intense interest in what the Baby Boomers did and why they did things.  These were years of energetic household formation, questionable savings habits, and ravenous demand for restaurant meals, particularly pizza delivered at home.  Nearly every conference and industry publication included some discussion of Boomers, their habits, and their attitudes.More…

The 80′s gave way to the 90′s and Boomer-led discussions of “those laggards” in Generation X and Y and then, later still, Millennials.  The latter generation has been of great interest to foodservice marketers of late as they’ve come into the market and used restaurants at a furious rate. In an earlier post I mentioned their importance to marketers as they begin to form their life-long habits.

This has taken focus away from the most talked-about generation in history.  My colleague and NPD restaurant industry analyst, Bonnie Riggs, has just written about new reasons to care about Baby Boomers in her new report,  Boomers and Beyond: Targeting Customers Driving Restaurant Demand.

First of all, people over 50 are the fastest growing age group in the population. They grew at double-digit rates over the last five years while 35-49 year-olds declined and younger age groups grew at single-digit rates.

Secondly, NPD’s foodservice market research shows that as the traffic losses in the U.S. foodservice industry have leveled off and come back a bit in recent quarters, it is the OLDER consumers who have increased their use of restaurants while younger consumers continued to cut back.

The result is the chart below.  Restaurant visits from Boomers, consumers over 50, have increased at quick service restaurants, retail, casual dining, and fine dining in the past five years while it has declined from others.  Boomer traffic growth has also outpaced others at fast casual concepts.

Don’t lose sight of the Boomers. They have entrenched habits, money, and time. They may not be the “greatest generation” (although possibly the best looking) but they stand ready to lift the foodservice industry out of the longest and deepest trough it has ever experienced.

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