Younger diners seek convenience when eating out

by Bryan Salvage
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CHICAGO — In this post-recession economy, restaurants and foodservice establishments serving up convenience are poised to do well, according to a new Mintel study. It suggests although value has become the mantra of many contemporary diners, convenience still resonates with the out-to-eat crowd, especially those under age 34.

More than half of younger adults rank a restaurant’s proximity to their workplace as very important/important when selecting where to dine (62% of 25-34s and 55% of 18-24s, versus 41% of all respondents). The ability to order online ahead of time is also essential to young, time-strapped consumers (31% of 25-34s and 24% of 18-24s, versus 19% overall). Younger diners also rank extended hours (i.e. late night) and speed of service highly in their restaurant-selection processes.

“Though value remains important to diners in this economy, our survey reveals convenience may be equally as important. Young adults and young families, especially, are pressed for time, making restaurants an easy and often necessary solution for meals. As foodservice establishments struggle for revenue, improving convenience may help them get diners in the door,” said Chris Haack, senior analyst at Mintel.

Although 43% of respondents told Mintel they’ve cut spending on delivery and takeout this year, approximately one in six 18-34 year-olds say they’re spending more on these convenient services compared to 2008. In the past three months, 18-34s were twice as likely as the general population to have ordered delivery. Approximately 30% of them picked up food from a restaurant, compared to 20% of all respondents.

Restaurants make mealtime easier, especially for 25 to 34 year-olds, many of whom work full-time or have young children. Nearly half (49%) say they dine at casual restaurants because they’re too tired to cook, while 40% do so because they have no time to prepare a meal. (This compares to 40% and 30% of all respondents, respectively.)

Special occasions, food quality and socialization, however, remain top reasons that younger adults go to restaurants.

“Restaurant usage is truly integrated into the lifestyles of adults under age 34,” Mr. Haack said. “Many people value the fact that they can get quality food with minimal effort at a restaurant. As a bonus, they can spend that meal time with friends or family.”
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