Young Consumers are Driving Non-Traditional Dining Occasions

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TORONTO — Young Canadian consumers are driving interest in non-traditional times for dining out, according to Mintel’s Dining Out Canada 2018 report.

While traditional meals such as lunch (60 per cent) and dinner (77 per cent) remain the most common occasions for dining out, diners aged 18 to 24 are the most likely to say they dine out for late-night meals (35 per cent versus 16 per cent overall), snacks (30 per cent versus 19 per cent overall) and brunch (22 per cent versus 18 per cent overall).

While younger diners are the most frequent visitors to restaurants — with 66 per cent saying they dine out at least once a week (versus 54 per cent overall) — diners aged 18 to 24 are twice as likely as diners overall to say that eating out/ordering in impacts their ability to meet their financial goals (34 per cent versus 17 per cent overall) and a similar percentage say they feel guilty about how often they eat out/order in (36 per cent versus 17 per cent overall).

“Young Canadians are the driving force behind dining out for non-traditional meal occasions such as late-night meals and snacking, due in part to a need for convenience and as the result of young consumers turning to snacking as a ‘stand-in’ for traditional meals. This indicates the increasing importance for restaurants to promote non-traditional eating occasions to ensure relevance with younger audiences, especially as snacking represents a great opportunity to connect with these consumers,” says Carol Wong-Li, senior Lifestyle-and-Leisure analyst at Mintel. “However, younger consumers are torn between feelings of enjoyment when dining out and guilt over the cost and frequency with which they do so. As snacking can be a more cost efficient way for younger Canadians to dine out, offering snack opportunities at unique times of day is a good way for foodservice marketers to not only keep young diners interested, but to encourage them to enjoy their services with a little less guilt.”

As the economy grows stronger, dining out is on the rise overall, with more than half of Canadian diners today saying that they dine out/order in at least once a week, compared to 42 per cent who said the same in 2016. The report also indicates dining out is increasingly being considered an indulgence, as the top reasons diners say they dine out/order in is to treat themselves (58 per cent) or as a reward (39 per cent).

Quebecers take a slightly different view on dining out — placing more emphasis on the social value of the dining experience — with 42 per cent (versus 36 per cent overall) indicating that the social aspect of eating out is important to them and 38 per cent (versus 33 per cent overall) saying the experience of eating out adds value to their lives.

“This highlights a boon for foodservice vendors as Quebecers are likely to need less of a reason or excuse to go out to eat,” adds Wong-Li. “Consumers from this region also tend to dine out more at traditional eating occasions than the average Canadian, which suggests that opportunities exist to grow cheques by offering the full-package deal of serving appetizers and desserts alongside entrees.”

More information about the Dining Out Canada 2018 report is available here.

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