- New research from the National Restaurant Association shows that 51% of baby boomers want to order food delivery more often than they do now, reports to Restaurant Business. This compares with 43% of millennials.
- Forty-two percent of millennials also expressed a desire to dine on-premise more often, compared to 38% of baby boomers. Gen-Xers have an even stronger interest in dining on-premise (47%) while 49% prefer off-premise.
- Overall, 49% of consumers said they want more off-premise restaurant meals, whether via takeout or delivery, compared to 42% who said they want more dine-in occasions.
These results are perhaps a surprise considering that growth in delivery is often attributed to convenience-minded millennials. A 2018 survey from Mintel shows that nearly 30% of millennials aged 24 to 31 prefer drinking at home, while other reports have blamed millennials' propensity to stay in for the struggles faced by casual dining chains. In fact, in 2017, then-Buffalo Wild Wings CEO Sally Smith wrote a letter to shareholders explaining that millennial consumers are "more attracted than their elders to cooking at home, ordering delivery from restaurants, and eating quickly …"
As such, a number of chains have turned their attention to marketing their delivery channels to younger diners. Denny's has had some success wooing younger generations through this channel, as has IHOP. Meanwhile, McDonald's just celebrated its third annual McDelivery promotion by giving away branded lounge wear targeted to younger consumers.
But as older consumers get more used to digital ordering channels and the conveniences they provide, it makes sense for them to use them more. That doesn't mean restaurant chains are targeting the wrong consumers with their delivery marketing efforts, however. Toast's recent Restaurant Report 2019 found that millennials want their food on demand. Millennials are also more connected via mobile, which bodes well for delivery and off-premise ordering.
More importantly, the younger generation makes up a lucrative diner base; nearly half of millennials spend more on dining out than they're saving for retirement. Millennials are entering their peak earning years and are expected to be the biggest spenders at groceries and restaurants within 10 years, a CBRE report Food in Demand: Consumers predicts.
Their successors are expected to provide even more of a boon. At some point this year, Gen Z will surpass millennials and baby boomers as the largest generation and Gen Z's spending power is estimated to be somewhere between $29 billion and $143 billion, surpassing that of the millennial generation. Like millennials, this generation prefers both the experience of eating out and the convenience of delivery. What that means is restaurants are wise to provide a balance here with a focus on both a compelling dine-in and off-premise experience in an effort to appeal to all demographics.