While the Millennial vs Baby Boomer conflict is largely played out in the realm of property sales, restaurant owners would ignore the older generation at their peril. Technomic’s 2018 Generational Consumer Trend Report revealed that more than half of people between the ages of 53 and 72 use foodservice at least once a week, and with more and more people working past retirement age, there is more money to go around.
The general perception is that, as older consumers, baby boomers are stuck in their ways and reluctant to try new flavours. Restaurants, such as Tiger Burger in Auckland’s Grey Lynn, often advertise weekly flavour specials through social media channels like Instagram, which typically have a much lower usage by older customers. However, Technomic found that 66 percent of respondents in this age group enjoyed trying new flavours – the highest of any age group surveyed. Furthermore, this group of customers is less likely to be following a restrictive diet such as Paleo or keto, and are likely to be more flexible in their menu choices.
Baby boomers have the largest spending power of all the generations. One estimate puts baby boomer spending power in the US in the trillions of dollars, as opposed to Gen X’s $125 billion, millennials’ $200 billion and Gen Z’s $43 billion. While Millennials eat out more often, the average spend by baby boomers is much larger.
So how can a restaurant appeal to the older generation? The numbers suggest building brand loyalty (36 percent of boomer diners visit the same few restaurants every time they go out) and offering discounts (55 percent of boomers say they seek out deals, which dictates their dining choices). Boomers aren’t fond of kiosks or dispersonal ordering, so customer service is key.