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Generational Differences in the Evolution of Health and Wellness

Generational Differences in the Evolution of Health and Wellness


Last Published: 06/03/2016

Generational Differences in the Evolution of Health and Wellness

Across generations, consumers are becoming more reliant on foodservice. While meals away-from-home might have once been a rare treat, increasingly it is a normal part of day-to-day life.

Millennials consume the largest percentage of meals away from home, but Generation Z is already consuming 40% of lunches and 38% of their dinners away from home. As Gen Z becomes more independent and financially stable, it is to be expected that their foodservice consumption will increase. Overall, about one-third of lunches (37%) and dinners (33%) are consumed at restaurants or other foodservice locations, but this due in part to mature consumers, such as Baby Boomers, who have not developed the same reliance on foodservice as their younger counterparts. Boomers, many of whom are living on a fixed income, have seen some loss of spending power as they have moved out of the working world and into retirement. [img_foodservice by generation 0116]

Consumers of all ages are looking for healthy options at restaurants, with 41% of consumers reporting that they would be more likely to visit restaurants if they offered healthier options. Half of Generation Z agreed that they would be more likely to visit restaurants if they offered healthier options, with 56% of Gen Z women agreeing with the statement. In all generations, women expressed more concern with healthy options than their male counterparts; the highest level of agreement from men came from the Millennial group, with 36% of males agreeing or strongly agreeing.

It isn’t surprising that consumers are interested in getting healthier -- only 37% of consumers are satisfied with their health, 32% are satisfied with their eating habits, and 27% are satisfied with their weight. Millennials are most likely to be satisfied with their health, eating habits, and weight, perhaps due to the fact that Millennials already purchase healthy fare at restaurants more than any other generation. Generation X and Baby Boomers are the least likely to be satisfied with their weight, although are generally fairly pleased with their eating habits. This may be why traditional weight loss descriptors – such as low-calorie or low-fat – is more appealing to these generations.

Although generational differences obviously have a strong impact on consumer preferences, it is important to also evaluate a consumer’s lifestyle. Parents of all ages have turned their attention to kids’ menus and look for family-friendly restaurants that deliver children’s options that are nutritious as well as delicious. Although kids are notoriously picky eaters, this generation of children have been exposed to a variety of foods, certainly they are far more exposed to ethnic dishes and ingredients at a young age than any other group has been. While expansive children’s menus are important to half of parents, 56% place high importance on healthy options. Family-friendly attributes, such as toys and games, are appealing to parents but more importantly, they are seeking fresh and healthful products for their children as well as themselves.

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