CHICAGO – Tweens and teens play a large role in influencing dining choices of their friends and families, according to new research. Fifty-eight percent of teens and 54 percent of tweens say their families make group decisions which full-service restaurant to dine at, according to Chicago-based Technomic.

Although both groups help in the decision-making process, tweens and teens have very distinct foodservice attitudes and behaviors, which needs different marketing strategies targeting their specific desires.

“Our youth play an integral part in the family dining experience, often participating in decisions on where and what to eat,” said Sara Monnette Technomic director of consumer research. “On the other hand, a majority of their dining behaviors derive from outside influences, most notably, friends. Through our analysis, we developed six basic socio-behavioral youth consumer segments to help evaluate the effects of these outside influences on their decision making.”

Even within demographic and age segments, tweens and teens are a diverse population, added Ian Davidson, senior manager, brand insights at C3. “They can often be difficult for marketers to understand and engage,” he said. “Brands that are successful with tweens and teens will need to demonstrate a tiered strategy to reach this powerful group of consumers.”

The Dining Habits of Tweens and Teens, recently published by Technomic and C3, provides an overview of attitudes toward national restaurant chains, food preferences and dining-out behaviors with friends and family and more. Study highlights include teens may be suffering from fast-food or brand fatigue; new and exciting foodservice concepts are most likely to appeal to them. Snacking frequency scales back as youth grow older, but the quantity of food eaten may increase.

Foodservice operators and suppliers may find success by tailoring menu offerings and marketing strategies to fit these stages – most tweens said in the study they wish restaurants would provide a separate menu for kids their age.