CHICAGO – Diners in the 18-34 age range make up the majority of foodservice customers, according to a recent survey by Technomic. Millenials are also the most likely to take advantage of value offerings at restaurants. According Technomic’s Lunch Consumer Trend Report, older consumers are more likely to be driven by value, but are not as likely to see the value menu as a viable lunch option.

“Baby Boomers are motivated heavily by value, but other significant motivations include health and quality of food,” said Sara Monnette, Technomic director of consumer research. “The most health-conscious consumers skew 45 and older, so their value equation is different than that of a younger person who sees value primarily as a price issue. Older consumers are less likely to perceive value in dollar menu items because of the broader context of their motivations.”

Study highlights include:

  • Consumers say during the week, fast, portable and inexpensive lunch options are top priorities at restaurants and other foodservice locations. On weekends, consumers pay more attention to customization and a fresh preparation than other attributes.
  • Despite saying they have been increasingly bringing lunches from home during the week, 35 percent of surveyed consumers still purchase lunch from a restaurant or other foodservice location at least twice a week, and roughly one-third of all lunch occasions include food from restaurants or other foodservice operations.
  • More than half of all consumers said they skip lunch at least once a week, and about two-thirds say they replace lunch with a snack at least once a week. Operators can likely appeal to consumers who frequently replace lunch with snacks by offering a greater selection of smaller-portioned and better-for-you options.
  • Almost half (47 percent) of consumers said they primarily visit the same few familiar restaurants at lunch. However, even though they might stick to a relatively small number of restaurants, two out of five still say they eat a wide variety of foods for lunch, so variety and customization options remain important.