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February 20, 2022

Restaurants need to gear up for an aging population: report

Consumers over the age of 55 have have been eating out more over the past five years while younger generations have decreased their food service patronage, according to The NPD Group.

The reason: Boomers, as a group, have more discretionary income -- largely because so many are delaying retirement -- while younger people face particularly high unemployment rates, an anemic job and mounting debt. In other words, they're broke.

In the past, older consumers visited restaurants less frequently than than younger diners and received less marketing attention as a result. But that's changing.

Boomers and even older consumers have increased their share of restaurant traffic by six percentage points since 2008, while dining by Millennials has decreased by almost the same amount showing -- once again -- that business should be rethinking just who they market to, NPD reports.  

“A lot of restaurant marketing dollars are aimed at Millennials, but market share capture remains the growth path for restaurant operators just as it has been for the past five years,” said Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst.

“Gaining market share among population segments increasing in both number and their use of restaurants, like boomers, eases the struggle. Operators just need to keep in mind that reaching older customers requires recognizing what it is they want from their restaurant experience.”

Older consumers want flexible meal options, such as smaller plates, available all day at affordable prices. They also want a welcoming environment and polite and friendly service, Riggs maintains.

Have your dining out habits changed significantly in recent years? Do you feel catered to or ignored?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...