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The food preferences of boomers continue to be the subject of studies even as the demographic grows older. Our foodservice industry is still focused on how to cater to millinneals. Up-and-coming Generation Z will be the next group to undergo extensive analysis.
Generation X eating habits haven’t gotten lost in all the evaluation, but the group doesn’t seem to get as much attention as older and younger generations. It’s easy to generalize Gen X as sandwiched between boomers and millennials, but that’s an easy way to overlook a well-financed market segment that you want in your restaurant.
10 Generation X Eating Habits That Affect Restaurant Business
They’re outnumbered by boomers and millennials, they typically enjoy more disposable income, and they love to eat out. Tracking Generation X restaurant trends helps target this important demographic and tap into their proven spending power. Understanding their preferences can bring this group through your restaurant’s doors.
1. Traditional Dining Rooms
Generation X feels right at home in traditional settings. They look for white table cloths and dark paneling in upscale restaurants. They enjoy the efficient layouts that make fast casual dining a simple pleasure. This group won’t pass on grab and go restaurants, but they like to sit and be served in familiar surroundings.
2. Gen X Comfort Foods
A list of Generation X’s favorite foods has to include QSR classics like pizza and burgers. They can make mac and cheese at home, but they love ordering it off a menu. Their taste in ethnic flavors doesn’t stray far from Mexican and Mediterranean cuisines. Gen Xers are most comfortable choosing from menus they grew up with.
3. Hands-On Cooking
This is a generation that appreciates your kitchen’s culinary skills. They like knowing their fries are hand-cut, their burgers are individually prepared and their condiments are housemade. Earn their dining loyalty by offering them house-seasoned salts for the fries and pickled baby iceberg lettuce on the burgers.
4. Authentic Preparations
They understand sous-vide, but they prefer the authenticity of hand-made pizzas prepared in wood-fired ovens. They’re drawn to restaurants that offer dry-aged steaks cooked over wood-burning grills. From slow-smoked barbecue to slow-cooked gumbos, the deep flavors of original food preparations always engage Generation X appetites.
5. Veggie-Centric Entrees
Consumers across all demographics continue to put a high priority on healthy eating. As they grow older, members of Generation X are more inclined to consider veggie-centric menu selections. Entree salads and plant-based main dishes are gaining popularity with maturing diners who tend to favor traditional restaurant fare.
6. Housemade Beverages
Gen Xers grew up with fountain beverages. Serve them that same fun elevated with housemade fizz. Create signature sodas crafted from premium ingredients. Develop cost-effective recipes around mineral water or seltzer flavored with fruit juices or purees and sweetened with simple syrup or honey.
7. Plant-Based Smoothies
Combine healthy choices with housemade beverages, and you have new menu items for Generation X. Plant-based smoothies are making a positive impression on health-conscious Gen Xers. Surprise them with delicious veggie smoothies made with a variety of ingredients like Brussels sprouts, strawberries, kale and pineapple.
8. Custom Ordering Options
Build a better Generation X customer base by letting them build their orders. Poke bowls are a great example of easily customized dishes. Design flexible menus that let Gen X diners design their own entree salads. Expand side selections, and offer customer-friendly options for grilled, sauteed or oven-roasted main dishes.
9. Healthier Fast Food
Their taste for tradition includes fast food, but they want healthier choices from the QSR and fast casual sector. Many national chains are bringing in Generation X by positioning their brands as healthy fast food. It’s a business model that’s influencing some of the biggest names in the foodservice industry.
10. Digital Convenience
If your restaurant offers app-based home delivery, you can extend your marketing reach to Generation X. They’re plugged into their smartphones, they’re comfortable using digital technology, and they’re immersed in social media. Make sure they can easily map their way to your door, review your menu or order home delivery through different apps.
Generation X vs. Millennials: Food for Thought
Millennials outnumber Generation X, but the older crowd fills up its fair share of dining rooms. Industry studies credit Gen X with 23 percent of all restaurant business in the United States. That’s an impressive portion of sales that total almost $800 billion annually.
It comes from households with consistently higher median incomes than millennials, and it’s spent by a generation that still enjoys a traditional restaurant experience. Unlike their younger companions at the table, Generation X puts a real emphasis on full service dining.
Millennials value speed and convenience while Generation X prefers sitting down with friends and family around communal tables. Finding a balance between the two groups can be a challenge. Understanding their differences can make a big difference in your restaurant’s sales.
Our Continued Support
Wherever you’re positioned in the foodservice industry, you know how important it is to reach every potential customer. Generation X doesn’t make headlines, but its members make up a significant percentage of restaurant guests. From QSR and home deliveries to fast casual and fine dining, this is a group that impacts the bottom line.
As you develop strategies for bringing in business from different generations, count on Hitchcock Farms as your partner in foodservice success. We’re here to support your operations with the freshest premium produce available. We’ve been here for generations too, and that’s something that won’t ever change.
Dan Holt is an experienced produce professional who started in the industry as a quality assurance inspector in the early 1990s and leads sales at Hitchcock Farms as Vice President. Prior to joining Hitchcock Farms, Dan enjoyed success in organic, specialty and conventional produce and with independent operators, regional and national chains in North America and abroad. Dan continues his passion in produce through collaborative inspiration and promoting healthy and sustainable food.