Food and Beverage

State of the Restaurant Industry: We Are Living in a Millennial World

Operators are exploring myriad ways to entice the next generation of guests to come back to their restaurants, our new research finds.
A group of young people at a restaurant table
We Are Living in a Millennial World

National Restaurant Association

With new millennial customers on their minds, restaurateurs are resetting the table for how they do business.

Operators are looking at everything – from how they use technology to what they serve on the menu to how they can make dining out more of an experience for their guests.

It’s all about capturing market share and enticing the next generation of guests to come back, our new State of the Industry report finds.

According to the report, 66 percent of millennials say spending money on an experience like dining at a restaurant or some other activity is more important to them than purchasing an item from a store.

So what makes a potential customer choose one restaurant over another? Here are a few discoveries we made:

  • Technology is a big draw. Millennials are more likely than Gen Xers or baby boomers to take advantage of and use technology when deciding where to dine.
  • The ordering process. Millennials are more willing than older guests to use electronic kiosks or tablets to place orders at limited-service and sit-down restaurants.
  • Looking at the menu online is key. Seventy-four percent of millennials and 68 percent of Gen Xers claim that option drives their choice of one restaurant over another.

Besides technology, providing healthful and environmentally sustainable options also impacted their dining choices. Following are some standouts we found:

  • Eating healthfully makes a difference. Among millennials, 74 percent are more likely to dine at a restaurant if it has healthy options.
  • The nearer, the better. Local sourcing is a factor in deciding where to dine for 70 percent of millennials.
  • Serving up sustainability. Sixty-five percent of millennials choose restaurants based on whether it serves environmentally friendly food.
  • Special needs, special tastes. Nearly 40 percent say availability of diet-specific food, like vegetarian or gluten-free items, affect their restaurant choices.

Download the complete State of the Industry report at It’s free to members, $325 to non-members.

Logos, product and company names mentioned are the property of their respective owners.