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Industry Updates

How Millennials Are Revolutionizing The Food-To-Go Industry

Written by
Will Harmon

In the hospitality industry, both buyers and suppliers cater to the demand of customers. Customers dictate demand to buyers, who turn around and place orders accordingly to their suppliers. The dollar stops at whoever bears the purchasing power, and in this market, that power is held by Millennials. Millennials are currently causing one of the biggest shifts in demand in recent history for the food industry, most notably in the "food-to-go" sector.

From ordering pre-made meal kits sent to their homes to the momentous surge in fast casual popups, Millennials have established what they want and food operators are finding themselves having to adapt to the new norms. In a report by Open Forum, studies show that by 2020, Millennials over age the age of 25 will make up nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population, compared with only 5 percent in 2010. The spending power of these 64 million consumers will rise, with the average household income expected to reach $45,000 (compared with $28,000 in 2010). Ultimately, Millennials’ spending on food for at-home dining will increase by $50 billion per year through 2020.

At the core of this new wave of demand, Millennials are most easily defined using the following criteria:

  • Convenience, convenience, convenience: The only thing Millennials are more hungry for than Chipotle is comfort. They want take-home food that's packaged for transport so they can eat it whenever they want wherever they want.
  • Health vs. Price: Millennials are leading the charge for sustainable, locally sourced, and organic food. They have proved they are more than willing to pay a premium for these qualities. However, they are also proven to be frugal when they need to, meaning when it comes to health and price, Millennials only choose one.
  • Informed is the new norm: Thanks to how shareable information is, Millennials are the most informed customers to ever exist. Loyalty is harder to earn as Millennials can find a new "favorite" spot every week.

Innovate your Product List to Incorporate Food-to-go Items

Manufacturers in the food and beverage industry, the Millennial's impact on the food-to-go industry presents a unique opportunity. Manufacturers should seize the opportunity to continue innovating and really invest in how they package and bundle their products. Millennials are obsessed with creating their own dining experience, which is why food-to-go is taking off. According to a recent study, 30% of Millennials were cited as buying food-to-go products during their last shopping trip.

Invest in Millennial Preference

One such opportunity to innovate lies in the range of products that suppliers offer. More and more Millennials are picking up veggie and vegan food-to-go bundles in stores and restaurants. Expanding upon your current product catalog to include wider ranges of products is exceedingly likely to catch the eye of Millennials, and ultimately, your clients.

Studies show that Millennials have a new perspective what "healthy" means. Food needs to be fresh, organic, locally sourced, GMO-free, with no processing or artificial ingredients. Historically, health was determined by counting calories. Now, health is all about being able to track where the food on your plate came from, and ensuring that their food never changed hands between a farmer and a processing plant.

Want an example? Look no further than Chipotle's astronomical rise through the ranks of fast-casual establishments. At this point, Chipotle is writing the handbook for capturing Millennial demand. It hit's every item on the checklist:

  • fully prepared meal to go
  • massive marketing campaigns around the new "health" (non-GMO)
  • affordable but good quality
  • quick lines, exceedingly convenient

If you want to leverage Millennial demand to grow your business, these are the qualities you need to internalize to your strategy. Restaurants are constantly looking for local partners who can stock their shelves with fresh and high-quality products. Whether it's a small mom and pop restaurant or a national chain (once again, see Chipotle), suppliers who can accommodate business with these qualities are more sought after than ever. Now is the time to leverage this industry's stakeholders.

Need help finding local businesses to partner with to start capitalizing on Millennial demand?BlueCart is here to help you discover business partners who can do just that! Ready to get started? Look no further!

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