With all the attention lavished on young consumers, it’s easy for foodservice operators to get swept up in Gen X and millennial mania. But at 743.4 million strong, with $2.6 trillion in buying power,1 it makes more sense to take a fresh look at what baby boomers bring to the table, especially when they can outspend younger generations.2
Boomers boast the biggest bucks by far. Millennials trail behind with $200 billion in buying power, Gen X with $125 billion and Gen Z with $43 billion.3 While 90% of marketing dollars are devoted to millennials,1 boomers’ massive numbers, both in terms of population and disposable income, underscore a feast of opportunities that the youth-driven bandwagon may be leaving behind.
According to trend survey data compiled by flavor research and development company FONA International, boomers are especially wellness-oriented in their food selection.2 While the better-for-you foodservice trend spans all generational cohorts, boomers (33%) are more than twice as likely as millennials (15%) to prefer products with labels that list ingredients they can understand.2
Given their concerns about aging, boomers are also bigger on food options that support wellness goals.3 Forty-nine percent of boomers expressed greater interest than millennials in functional foods.3
Boomers Bite into Snack and Restaurant Markets
On the snack trends front, boomers turn to ready-to-eat snacks 20% more than millennials, with older consumers less willing to prepare a big meal and more likely to eat alone.4 And while wellness figures prominently in their approach to food, taste remains the primary reason 43% of boomers choose certain snacks over others.4
When it comes to choosing restaurants, convenience, affordability and familiarity are key factors for boomers.5 An emphasis on value makes them risk averse when it comes to culinary exploration (unlike millennials and Gen Z who drive demand for bold new flavor profiles).5 As a result, boomers tend to limit experimentation to regional flavors and dishes within the major cuisines they favor, such as Italian, Chinese and Mexican.5
While local restaurants may be prized by younger consumers for local fare and signature dishes, boomers surveyed gravitate to the value-driven convenience of casual dining establishments (84%) and chains (74%).5
Feeding on More Foodservice Trends
The foodservice market research and analysis firm Technomic offers insights into boomer attitudes toward key trends like takeout and mobile ordering. Seventy percent of boomers surveyed are sticklers for order accuracy, while 75% feel food quality and taste must be no different from dining in.6
What’s more, while boomers tend to be tech-savvy and willing to place orders on a computer, their generation is the least receptive to mobile ordering and favors personalized customer service over cashless and kiosk order processing.5
Boomers are also more apt to go to a restaurant’s Facebook page for the latest offers, bypassing the photographic feeding frenzy of visually lavish dishes that younger consumers post on Instagram.3
A few key takeaways to help build boomer business:
- Provide options that strike a balance between high nutritional value and hanker-worthy flavor.
- Menu major cuisines and regional offshoots to provide familiarity with a touch of taste experimentation.
- Emphasize personalized customer service while ensuring online ordering is easy, online menus up to date and takeout orders accurate.
- Be sure to update and engage boomers on your Facebook page and avoid neglecting it in favor of Instagram.
Our lineup of iconic brands can help you leverage boomer preferences, while our culinary expertise can help you tailor menu innovation to the boomer market. Reach out below to learn more and be sure to check out our Culinary Center for ideas and inspiration.