7 things Baby Boomers and Generation X look for when they eat out

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If you think targeting millennials is the quickest route to success, you may want to think again.
That’s because results of a recent survey suggest older generations are set to dominate spend on foodservice.

Global information firm NPD predicts that changing priorities of 25-34 year olds could cut the number of millennials visiting restaurants by 2% in the next five years.

That would (should it come to pass) amount to an annual loss in revenues of around £800 million to test the robustness of an industry already operating in a challenging economic climate.

Luckily, an emerging over 50s market – the ‘Baby Boomers’ and ‘Generation X’ – are set to come to the rescue. In fact, NPD says the amount of restaurant visits by over 50s could increase by more than 4% by 2022. 

But who are they and what do they want when they dine out?

Who are ‘Baby Boomers’ and ‘Generation X’? 

The ‘Baby Boomers’ get their name from the spike in birth rate following the end of the World War II. They were born between the years of 1947 and 1965 and were the UK’s largest generational group in 2015.

Generation X, meanwhile, are those people born between 1965 and 1985, meaning the oldest of the cohort is now approaching their mid-50s.

Together the two generations numbered almost 28% of UK population in 2015.

That's nearly 20 million people in an age group that spends more than any other when eating away from home (£13.41 per visit).

It all means lots of opportunities for your business to grow if you know how to cater for their specific demands.

What are boomers and GenXs looking for when they eat out?

1. Healthy options

Healthy options on menus have been a big food service trend appealing across all age groups for many years.

For boomers and GenXs, the pull of clean eating is linked to raising awareness of personal health issues related to ageing.

It is definitely worth considering dishes that are low in or free of sugar, salt and cholesterol.

Offering a range of tasty vegetarian options could also give your menu added appeal.

Find out more about adding great tasting vegetarian options to your menu

2. Don't neglect breakfast and lunch

Eating late is not a preference for the majority. That means your breakfast and lunch menus are as important as your night time offerings.

How about giving your breakfast menu a healthy kick? Light eggs, lean proteins, porridge and pro-biotics are just a few things you might consider.

The over 50s were brought up to respect eating out as a treat, so you can focus on indulgence, too.

Don’t forget early evening specials and ‘happy hour’ promotions. You can advertise them easily on pavement boards, table top blackboards or wall mounted chalkboards.

3. Focus on value 

The over 50s are less concerned about finances than other age groups when they eat out.

That means they’ll pay a fair price for a fair plate of food.

‘Homemade’, ‘premium’ and ‘authentic’ are messages they are particularly drawn to.

4. First class service

A study by the International Council of Shopping Centres found that boomers and GenXs are the most likely to switch to a competitor following bad service.

If they like what you’re doing and you make them feel at home, however, there’s a good chance they’ll come again.

Remembering names or making meal recommendations based on previous visits are small ways waiting staff can showcase the sort of familiarity those customers will value.

Talk to them about offers and events on your social media platforms. A 2016 Nielsen report found GenXs are the most prolific users of social media.

Other marketing tips you could use to promote your foodservice business 

5. Loyalty Schemes

Boomers and GenXs like their loyalty rewarded. There’s a good chance you’ll secure revenue for five meals if you offer a sixth for free.

It might cost extra time and money to set up a loyalty scheme, but, if it helps retain big-spending boomers and GenXs, it will be worth it.

Lots of studies have shown that small amounts of loyal customers tend to account for a large percentage of revenues.

6. Tradition with a twist

Boomers and GenXs tend to stick with places they know and trust. It’s generally the same with their tastes.

Neither group generally seeks out the hottest new food trends.

Instead they find comfort in traditional classics done well with a unique twist. Start thinking of ways to spruce up your bangers and mash! 

7. Delivery service

Food delivery is nothing new. Pizza by delivery has been available to the natives of Naples since the late 19th century.

It took a bit longer to arrive in the UK, but the likes of Deliveroo and Just Eat have taken food delivery to a new level in recent years.

The over 50s account for 14% of all UK delivery visits and that is predicted to rise to around 17% by 2022.

Does your offering align with a delivery service? Think about outsourcing or have a look at some of our food transport bags to set up an in-house delivery service.

By Patrick James

“Uniting my passions for writing and food to keep you up to date with the latest foodservice and catering industry hot topics.”


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