“This song was Daddy’s favourite when he was your age!” the woman tells her teenage children, seated at the dining table in the corner. They’re waiting for Dad, who is running late. She apologises for the inconvenience. When Dad rushes in, he first checks his phone for the digital loyalty card. He probably also has a printed version somewhere. “Time for some authentic food!” This is your typical Generation X family, the in-between age group, often overlooked, sandwiched between Millennial diners and Baby Boomers. And yet, they share characteristics with both and are rapidly becoming the most financially powerful generation. Find out who they are and how to attract them to your restaurant.
Generation X, often shortened to Gen X, is used to describe people born in the years 1965 to 1979, following the ‘Baby Boomers’. This was a time of sexual revolution, increased divorce rates and reduced focus on children. As a result, Gen X is a group of independent, self-reliant and resourceful consumers. They’ve grown up with new technologies, but still remember why the ‘save’ icon on your computer looks like a floppy disc. This transition has made them flexible and adaptable, but also tolerant to new things and alternative lifestyles. That makes them more sceptical, yet they are willing to try new things more easily than Baby Boomers.
Busy, open-minded and conscious
Gen Xers are busy with kids and jobs, but for the next 10 years, they will be the decisive age group, taking over from the Baby Boomers as decision makers. With more time on their hands, they’ll increasingly visit restaurants. So far, Gen X has often been overlooked but already they are good for £20 of every £100 spent in restaurants. As this number increases, you shouldn’t miss out on the generation that made ‘80s and ‘90s themes cool (Stranger Things, anyone?). For now, though, life is busy and discounts are great. Takeaway and home delivery are convenient when there’s a whole family to feed. If they do sit down at a restaurant, there had to be good options for everyone, so a broad menu works best.
Gen X diners like to play it safe, but are more open to new flavours and alternative types of food than Boomers. Less mainstream cuisines like Japanese, sushi and Caribbean food are particularly popular. In the coming years however, Gen X is expected to become more interested in health food. As they become more knowledgeable and open-minded about food choices, this might have a big impact on what and how they eat. They like to know where their food comes from and because of that, they appreciate kitchen craftsmanship. Customisation, authentic preparation, culinary skills and homemade condiments and beverages are much appreciated.
More facts about Generation X guests:
- Gen X is the perfect generation for e-mail marketing. They try to moderate their screen time, yet according to the New York Times they spend seven hours online a week, mostly on Facebook.
- Their scepticism surfaces when Gen X is overexposed to advertising. Over promoting pushes them away from your restaurant doors.
- They enjoy loyalty programmes just as much as Baby Boomers do. Forbes reports that 88% of Gen X joins them to save money.
- Nostalgia is big among Gen X, the MTV generation (when the M stood for music). They love snacks from their youth, and advertising with pop culture scores points.
- More and more, Gen Xers look for a traditional restaurant experience, where you sit down and enjoy your time with friends and family.
- Fresh, organic, authentic and homemade food resonates strongly with Gen X.
- Gen X diners often have dual incomes, which provides them with a bigger budget.
- Comfort food with an adventurous twist – even plant-based – works well for Gen Xers.
- 85% of Gen Xers visit a fast food restaurant once a month, much like the Boomers.
How to get Gen X to shake up your business
As Millennials start settling down and Baby Boomers are entering retirement, the next decade belongs to Gen X and with the biggest spending power, this age group is slowly increasing the amount of time they spend eating out in restaurants. They have, to all intents and purposes, been overlooked for years and now is your chance to attract them. So how to go about that? Let’s give you some pointers:
Provide a dining experience for the whole family
More than anything, going out for dinner is a social occasion for Gen Xers. Make sure that your restaurant has a fun and upbeat look for a positive experience and that your menu offers something for everyone. It’s all about being together, so make sure music or TV-screens don’t hamper the interaction.
Offer fresh, authentic and homemade food
Gen X loves to eat real food, so either provide or emulate that experience. A rustically cut fry, a homemade condiment, fresh bread and organic vegetables are all highly regarded. It’s all about the small things and knowing that the food is prepared for them in a natural way. This is due to the highly sceptical nature of Gen X.
Gen X loves their beverages: healthy, homemade drinks and sodas or proper adult beverages. Your beer, wine and liquor menu is definitely an attraction for Gen X diners. But even craft sodas, teas and veggie smoothies are in demand.
Don’t worry, be happy
Gen Xers are busy people, so make their life easier! Make sure that booking a table is easy, help them sort their evening by asking about their plans and tailor your loyalty programme to their needs. Do that, and you are likely to become their new favourite!
Healthy food full of taste
Of course, Gen X loves healthy food, but they’re also unwilling to compromise on taste. If you offer them a healthy option, make sure the taste is up to par!
Play the nostalgia card
More than any other generation, Gen X loves pop culture references. Make sure to bank on that with décor, music and other interior elements.
Are you ready to conquer the generation of Madonna, Nintendo, acid-wash jeans and the A-team? With these tips you’ll definitely be on the right path. Make sure to learn more by signing up for our newsletter!