Restaurants Need To Refocus As Older Customers Become More Important

Supper visits have been cut back by all but the most mature age group according to a recent study of restaurants in the USA. Historically, supper is the meal that leads the restaurant industry out of recessions, but that won’t be the case this time, according to a new study by The NPD Group. Supper is the restaurant industry’s largest sales generator but has been the weakest performing meal period for the past decade, reports NPD.

See chart: Mature traditionalists = 62+

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The NPD restaurant market study, which examines how the supper market weakened and analyzes how each generation uses restaurants, multiple factors have contributed to the decline in supper visits. Among the most important factors is that the aging of the U.S. population has resulted in a fundamental shift in the profile of supper restaurant users. The study reports that whereas younger consumer groups had and continue to have the highest usage frequency of restaurant suppers, their pullback on usage has narrowed the frequency gap – and the sheer number of aging Boomers has increased the importance of more mature adults to the supper occasion.

The heaviest restaurant supper customers – the 18-to-24 and 25-to-34 age groups have cut back the most, dropping 13 visits per year, respectively, over the last eight years. Even before the current economic situation, consumers were shifting how they addressed their needs to feed themselves and their families at supper.

What this all means for restaurant operators is that they can’t control population trends, but they can influence buying rate momentum by understanding the levers that appeal to their target customers. Through product and concept innovations, availability, understanding their consumers’ value perceptions, right pricing, and targeted messaging, they can re-attract consumers to restaurants for supper.

Perhaps also to ensure that the dinig experience is age-neutral? How about menus that are readable both in terms of font (size and clarity) and enough direct light to make them visible!?

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