From the Editor: Setting the Trends

Photo by Nick Wong

Restaurants have undergone a world of transformative change in recent years due to the pandemic. And though many are now enjoying solid business, a host of seismic changes will forever change the way restaurants operate. Add demographic changes to the mix, and it’s clear the restaurant landscape is more dynamic than ever.

According to a recent study of millennial and Gen Z consumers, undertaken in the U.S. by Y-Pulse, (a division of Olson Communications), young adults are fuelling a food culture driven by convenience. The study revealed three key findings on dining behaviour:

Convenient Lifestyle Dining: Breaking bread together has always been viewed as a way of bringing people together, but the young adults who participated in the Y-Pulse survey provided a fresh perspective on this maxim, with 72 per cent reporting that sharing a meal with a friend or family member in the car suits their hectic lifestyle.

We’ve heard about dashboard dining for several years, but this young generation takes it to a new level, with Tik-Tok popularizing extreme in-car cooking among friends. With the variety of foods available from QSR restaurants, the study indicates that “the drive-thru may become a new venue for culinary exploration.”

Convenient Cafe Cuisine: Interestingly, the study also found that convenience stores, which might have been considered little more than a fuel stop a decade ago, are becoming adult-friendly gathering places. Keep in mind this may be more of an American trend than a Canadian one. The study found that 77 per cent of survey participants, said they like convenience stores that feature café seating.

Food halls and marketplaces are also attracting young adults because they “offer a world of choices through the wide range of vendors.” In fact, 81 per cent of survey participants favoured food halls, which “make it easy and convenient for a group of friends with diverse tastes to dine together.” A total of 88 per cent of participants liked “food markets because of the ease of sharing a meal with others when not everyone in the party wants the same type of food.”

Convivial To-Go Experiences: In a similar vein, 71 per cent of Millennial and Gen Z consumers surveyed preferred meals they can consume on the go. Yet, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re consuming those meals alone. A total of 91 per cent enjoyed sharing meals with other people rather than dining alone while 87 per cent reported they enjoy taking their to-go meal somewhere else to relax and enjoy with others.

Finally, of note, six years ago when young consumers were asked whether they preferred convenience versus cuisine, 44 per cent reported convenience as more important than cuisine in their dining decisions. That figure rose to 59 per cent in the latest study, proving that for today’s young consumers, it’s all about convenience.

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