Millennial Dining Trends
For anyone in the food business, looking at food trends is a key part of the job. We want to know what customers want on their tables and in their homes. Luckily, it’s endlessly fascinating. Finding a new gourmet product or meeting an up-and-coming chef is thrilling. To be able to share both with the world never loses its luster. If anything, it’s hard to contain our excitement!
In addition to looking at food trends in menu items, dining establishments, and shelf products, we thought it would be worthwhile to understand what is appealing to diners as part of a larger group – or generation. We decided to take a look at current millennial dining trends because this group, born between 1981 and 1996, is arguably the most influential in trendsetting.
Millennials are still young, some in their early 20s, but their outlook on life is distinctly worldly. They grew up with the universe at their fingertips on the Internet and they know what’s happening every instant in virtually every corner of the globe. Information reaches them at warp speed through social media and they decide quickly what they like and what they don’t like. They’ve never known any other way to live.
So what is important to millennials when it comes to eating, and how do their food trends overlap with other generations? Let’s take a look.
Health is IN
A millennial food trend that has exploded in the last decade is the desire for the highest quality ingredients in restaurants and for meals at home. Now that we are decades removed from the post World War II factory farm boom, the health consequences are being felt by the baby boomer generation. Millennials have taken note and they don’t want to be ill or plagued by the lifestyle diseases that have been linked to a poor quality diet.
When millennials shop for food, they seek out organic products and choose companies that value quality above all else. They want food manufacturers to be accountable to consumers and to strive for consistent excellence. In addition to going organic, millennials are much more likely to switch to a plant-based diet than any other generation. Some do it for health reasons, some for ethical reasons, and some for both. And even if they don’t go 100% plant-based, they eat a lot more vegetables and fruit than ever before.
All of this means that millennials want healthy options – and they’re willing to pay for them. They will support food delivery, food box services, and brick and mortar establishments that give them the healthy food choices they crave. They will also support companies that have long traditions of excellence but who are in tune with the green/clean revolution and working to stay with the times. For anyone in the food business, organic ingredients, local sourcing, proof of excellence, and recycling efforts will ensure business from millennials and Gen Zs for decades to come.
It’s All About The Experience
In the age of social media, if people have a great experience, they let the world know. Millennials understand the power they possess with the click of a smart phone. Food has always been an experience for all the senses, but millennials have taken it further. Instagram is filled with photographs of exquisite dishes and ingredients. Millennial social media influencers seem to capture every meal and document every culinary interaction. If they like something, the ripple effect is felt.
For food purveyors and restaurateurs, this is a great opportunity. Websites and social media business pages should showcase the unique culinary experience diners will take away. If your product has a story, tell it. Consumers love storytelling. They crave it – especially when choosing brands. This is another millennial specialty. If you know you have an outstanding product or eatery – the way you present it will determine its appeal to your millennial target.
It’s hard to image eating and buying will ever be the same, because the millennial trend of putting the experience above all else, is here to stay.
Convenience and Technology
As important as the shared dining experience is to millennials, in day-to-day life, convenience is even more so. Along with shots of mouthwatering meals in packed restaurants gracing many an Instagram feed, if you scroll long enough, you’ll also see millennials gushing about food delivery and meal convenience options.
Millennials are busy – just as every generation is. But millennials are in their peak working years now and many of them are starting families or getting ready to. When children do arrive, both partners frequently work outside the home, so food prep needs to be streamlined, simple, but still high quality and nutritious. Millennials want home cooked meals during the week that tick all of their generation’s boxes (and they want to make sure the boxes are recycled!).
Technology has made life easier for all of us. Millennials have insisted that technology meet convenience, and the result is more delicious and healthy food options for every generation to enjoy.
Millennials are the movers and shakers of our modern age. They don’t remember records or phones attached to a wall. They don’t remember a time when you actually had to unfold a paper map to find your way to a new destination. Their world is technologically savvy, eco-friendly, socially conscious, globally inclusive, and eternally curious. They have high standards for everything, especially what they consume. It’s a great opportunity for the food industry to move forward with them.