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Millennial Menu Must-Haves

The Millennial Generation is made up of individuals born between the years 1980-1999. With $200 billion direct purchasing power and an approximate size of 77 million individuals, Millennials make up a significant portion of the population and are important players in the future of America’s economy and workforce. Not only is this age demographic quickly becoming the majority of consumers, but their difficult-to-define characteristics may turn the food industry upside down. 

Food as Reflection of Self
Millennials are all about self-branding which can be seen in personal choices of style, social media activity, tattoos and piercings, even down to the food that they eat. This new attitude is being adopted by restaurants which are beginning to offer customizable menus to make each dining experience a personal expression of who you are through the food you eat. Slater’s 50/50 build your own burger bar and PizzaRev build your own pizza experience are both examples of restaurants delivering relevant customization options to Millennial diners.

Diverse Food Experiences
More than any other generation, Millennials crave variety, and lots of it. From Cuban, to Peruvian, to Japanese, to Indian, and Brazilian, this group enjoys the spicy, tangy, tart, exciting flavors that the world has to offer. Not only do they appreciate authentic ethnic foods, but they love to mash them up. How about a Sushirrito (sushi wrapped up like a burrito) or Korean BBQ tacos? If it has authenticity with an ethnic flair, you can bet that Millennials are in. New York’s latest culinary craze, the Ramen Burger, is the perfect food and flavor mash-up that Millennials are seeking. 

Healthy Food Awareness
With the emergence of food politics, never-ending media coverage on food safety, the fixation on health/fitness, and desire to know the source of the food that they eat, Millennials want food choices that are both healthy and sustainable. With so many messages vying for their attention, Millennials are constantly asking, “What does healthy even mean?” and demanding that brands be honest about the ingredients they use. Chipotle’s Food with Integrity Campaign featuring The Scarecrow video and mobile game app speak directly to Millennials’ need to know more about where their food comes from.

Crowd-Sourced Opinions
In a survey conducted by AdAge, 68% of Millennials said they ask friends for advice about where to eat out before choosing a restaurant. In fact, Millennials regularly seek the opinions of close relatives and friends regarding life decisions both big and small. Millennials believe that a person who has had first-hand experience with a brand or product can be referred to as an expert. This has naturally transitioned into an appreciation for digital landscapes that offer first-hand experiences or opinions relating to food. Yelp is a perfect example of a digitized word-of-mouth, first-hand experience and offers opinions about food items or food establishments. 

Instant Gratification (Yet Have a Social Conscience)
Fast, easy, delicious, local. These are menu buzzwords for the Millennial generation. However, quick menu options are usually less sustainable than desired. The key to supplying quick, fresh, and delicious food is small menu changes like organic tomatoes in pasta sauce or free range chicken breast in a sandwich. Tender Greens is a market leader in quick serve meals with a cafeteria style production line menu. 


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