Millennials (“Gen-Y”) have been dubbed the “foodie generation.” They engage and connect with their food; whether it’s going to a new gourmet restaurant or seeking out information on ingredients.
What’s the Trend
This generation craves experiences over products and with an increase in social media platforms, Millennials’ interaction and attitude towards food is becoming more noticeable and important.
According to research conducted by the Center for Culinary Development, several characteristics are central to Millennials as foodies. First, they are a globally oriented generation; they are well-traveled and have a high-level of comfort with different cultures. Because of this, they value authenticity when eating ethnic food, but also appreciate an authentic mash-up such as Mexican dumplings or Korean BBQ tacos. It is important for Millennials to be able to customize their menu items and choose ad-ons when they want. They are a generation that is more concerned with healthy foods and where ingredients came from than their parents or grandparents were at the same age.(1) Moreover, they are “thrill-seekers who crave heightened eating experiences such as intense flavors and extreme textures.”(2)
With new digital and social media platforms available, food is being embraced as a vehicle for self-expression and storytelling.(3) The popularity of two anonymous Instagram accounts “@youdidnoteatthat” and “@foodintheair” gives insight into the new ways in which food is used as a prop or held up to a beautiful backdrop to convey the entire vibe and experience while consuming a food item.(4) Also, with unique, tasty desserts like the “cronut” in NYC or the churro ice cream sandwich in L.A., it is apparent that Millennials are willing to line up for hours to try these exclusive treats and share the fact that they did so. Even aside from posting pictures, Millennials are constantly “pinning” new recipes and racing to “check in” at a new restaurant.
Important statistics backing this trend: 44% of Millennials ages 21-24 have posted a photo of food or drinks they or someone else was having on social media, 52% of Millennials ages 21-32 would rather go to a food festival than music festival and 61% of Millennials ages 21-24 would rather have dinner at a new restaurant than buy a new pair of shoes.(5)
Why it Matters
By 2017, Millennials will have the power to outspend the Boomer generation; which is why paying attention to their attitudes and behaviors towards food is now more important than ever. It is particularly important to consider this through the Hispanic lens because there are 15 million Hispanic Millennials in the U.S. that currently account for 21% of the total Millennial population and will grow to 23% by 2020, due to Millennial-aged Hispanic immigrants entering the country.(6) Moreover, Hispanic Millennials are the largest sector of the Hispanic population (65%).(7) These two facts taken together signify that Hispanic Millennials can influence both mainstream eating attitudes and those of the general Hispanic population.
There is also opportunity for Casual Dining Restaurants to engage with this generation and take advantage of their food consumption habits. A 2014 study conducted by Univision and Burke found that in a three month period, Hispanics visited restaurants 11.9 times (compared to 8.8 times for non-Hispanics) and within that group, Hispanic Millennials visited restaurants 12.6 times (compared to 9.1 times for Non-Hispanic Millennials).(8)
Current research from the NPD Group’s NET (National Eating Trends) also points to heritage playing an integral role in food preparation for Hispanics. The consumption of Hispanic foods is predicted to increase by 7% over the next 5 years among U.S. Hispanic Millennials.(9) Straddling diverse, cultural traditions and the American mainstream, food for Hispanic Millennials is not only about the experience, but the experience in relation to cultural ties. Finally, Latin flavors have influenced many of the foodie trends, such as the aforementioned churro ice cream sandwich and Korean BBQ tacos.
Halperin, Marc. (2012, March). “Fulfilling Generation Next.” QSR Magazine.
Lukovitz, Karlene. (2009, January). “Figuring Out Gen Y’s Eclectic Eating Preferences.” Marketing Daily MediaPost.
Fromm, Jeff. (2014, March). “Millennial Foodies Inspire Innovative Culinary Trends.” Millennial Marketing.
Spedding, Emma. (2014, April). “Food In The Air! The Only Way To Instagram Your Grub This Summer.” Grazia Daily.
Bliss, MaryLeigh. (2014, October). “Is Food The New Status Symbol?” Engage: GenY MediaPost.
HispanicAd.com, “Study on Hispanic Millennials Reveals How Culture Influences Behavior and Purchasing.” (2014). Multicultural Retail 360.
Villa, Jose. (2013, December). “Millennials: Opportunity Amidst The Hype?” Engage: Hispanics MediaPost.
Filiaci, Peter. (2014, May). “Digging into the Hispanic Casual Dining Landscape.” UCI Corporate.
“Report: Gen Z, Millennials, Hispanics Drive Eating Behaviors.” (2014, May). QSR Magazine.