The proportion of the commercial foodservice industry’s traffic obtained from visits made by older consumers has grown steadily over the past five years while visits from Millennials have declined, according to The NPD Group research and consulting firm. Baby Boomers and their seniors (Mature Traditionalists), are making more visits to every segment of the restaurant industry than prior to the recession, a recently released NPD foodservice market research report finds.
Historically, older consumers were less frequent restaurant visitors than those in younger age groups and so received less marketing attention as efforts generally were made to reach the heaviest buyers, according to the NPD report entitled Boomers and Beyond—Targeting for Success, which delves into what seniors expect from restaurant visits, the menu items they prefer, and what restaurant operators can do to attract and retain their business. The visit rate for older restaurant consumers is now the same as it is for those younger. Boomers and older have increased their share of restaurant traffic by six percentage points since 2008 and Millennials have decreased their share of traffic by six percentage points.
Restaurant traffic has improved slightly since the Recession (traffic was up one percent for year ending September 2012), according to NPD’s CREST foodservice market research, although levels remain below those in 2008. Morning meal visits have completely recovered to pre-recession levels (up two percent for the year ending September 2012)—tracing entirely to increased visiting by Older Boomers and Mature Traditionalists. These older consumers are also providing support for recovery of lost supper visits. Viewing visits per capita, Older Boomers are now heavier users (most frequent) of restaurant morning meals and supper than any other age group.
“A lot of restaurant marketing dollars are aimed at Millennials but market share capture remains the growth path for restaurant operators, just as it has been for the past five years,” says Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. “Gaining market share among population segments increasing in both number and their use of restaurants, like Boomers, eases the struggle. Operators just need to keep in mind that reaching the older customers requires recognizing what it is they want from their restaurant experiences.”