You can thank millennials – those born in the 1980s and into the 2000s – for the increase in unusual foods and intense flavors in recent years. Like the generations before them, Gen Y is setting standards for food – from convenient stores to the poshest restaurants in the United States.
There have always been foodies, but millennials have really taken the idea of being tastemakers to the next level. They are fond of global cuisines, especially if they are fresh and spicy. And they have a fondness for “customizing” foods with “add-ons” – think build-your-own food eateries like Chipotle.
For Baby Boomers, it’s all about traditional flavors and foods high in protein and nutrients, and low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. They look for dishes that suit their health concerns, and they are not as adventurous as, say, millennials. Boomers tend to favor beef, pork and seafood.
According to Technomic, Inc., more than 69 percent of baby boomers say that they would be happy to eat burgers and pizza once every 90 days. While Baby Boomers favor traditional meals, they do also enjoy adding a variety of herbs and spices to their dishes.
Meanwhile, Generation Xers are considered a group that bridges the flavor gap between millennials and boomers. They like comfort food and they like familiar flavors, Technomic reports, but they also like a bit of adventure.
While millennials have helped lead the charge for intense flavors and ingredient “mash-ups,” Gen X is keeping alive the notion of a “safe” culinary adventure. For example, a millennial might like an adventurous miso-glazed salmon, while a Gen Xer might prefer a familiar honey-glazed salmon.
Some eateries have found success by offering something for everyone with a menu that addresses each generation’s taste. Others have gone the niche route and focused their cuisine on a specific generation. Either way, being familiar with the tastes of current generations is key to long-term success for food providers and restaurants.