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Boomers less likely to adopt tech, subscription trends in foodservice

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Millennials and Gen Zs say “go”—while Boomers say “no”—to restaurant trends centered on tech and subscription services, according to recent market data.

Millennials and Gen Zs are embracing tech-savvy restaurant trends that simplify purchases and streamline ordering and delivery processes. Boomers, however, are not.    

New market research from the National Restaurant Association’s (NRA) 2022 State of the Restaurant Industry report highlights a divide in purchasing preferences and behaviors at restaurants between younger generations—Millennials and Gen Z—and Baby Boomers.  

According to NRA’s report, a majority of Millennials and Gen Z adults embrace using technology to order food at a restaurant. For example, 80% of Millennials and Gen Z are open to using a tablet to order food at a restaurant. Further, more than half of Gen Zs would opt to sit in a section that offers high-tech ordering options—like smartphone or tablet ordering—versus a section that offers traditional service.  

Millennials and Gen Zs extend this willingness to adopt tech to streamline ordering to virtual, voice-assisted options. Roughly two-thirds (69%) of patrons in these groups said they would likely order using a virtual assistant such as Amazon’s Alexa or the iPhone’s Siri. 

Interest in using a virtual assistant to order food drops to 26% among Boomers, the report found. 

Boomers have adopted some tech-assisted ordering options. More than half of Boomers (61%) said they are likely to use online ordering and payment options.  

Millennials and Gen Z are also more likely to use a third-party service for food delivery, with 85% of Gen Z delivery customers reporting they used a third-party service to order food in the past six months. That number reduced by more than half—to 38%—among Boomers.  

Beyond tech, Millennials and Gen Z embrace innovative ways to purchase food from a restaurant, including subscriptions. About 80% of patrons in these groups said they would likely purchase a subscription from a favorite restaurant for a specified number of meals in a month, and 75% would open “house accounts,” given they’re provided a discount for prepaying. 

These numbers are cut in half among Boomers, among whom only 37% reported interest in purchasing a subscription and 38% reported they’re likely to open a house account.  

Lifestyle differences drive food trends 

Among Millennials and Gen Z, ordering food from restaurants is part of a lifestyle that’s driven by flexible and convenient options, which may contribute to the groups’ willingness to adopt new methods. 

For example, takeout and delivery are considered go-to foods among younger generations, with 72% of millennials and 66% of Gen Z calling such options “essential” to their lifestyle. In addition, Millennials and Gen Zs are more likely to incorporate restaurant-prepared items into meals made at home, with more than 70% indicating increased reliance on mixed meals. 

In fact, 80% of Millennials and Gen Zs are likely to purchase a meal kit offered by one of their favorite restaurants, compared to 33% of Boomers.  

Rachel Adams joined Informa’s Health & Nutrition Network in 2013. Her career in the natural products industry started with a food and beverage focus before transitioning into her role as managing editor of Natural Products INSIDER, where she covered the dietary supplement industry. Adams left Informa Markets in 2019. 

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