A couple sits at their regular table. The bottle of wine, their favourite, is slowly emptying out and the menus are still closed. They have checked the menu online, so they know what they’ll have. He’d have the steak, but opts for a healthy salad instead. She’s trying a vegetarian dish today. “No rush, we’ve got all night!” they tell the waiter. The night is young and the taxi is on speed dial. That’s pretty much the dining experiences of your average baby boomer customer: quality time, a little indulgence and comfort. No wonder they’re good for about £40 of every £100 spent in restaurants! Time to get acquainted with this generation and their dining habits.
After World War II, the world saw a tidal wave of births: the Baby Boomers. This generation, born between 1945 and 1964, definitely shaped the world we live in today. Many of them are enjoying retirement now and benefitting from more free time, while others will be working for a few years more. With their comfortable salary, this is not an age group you want to ignore.
Comfort, familiar favourites and… the right price!
Though much attention in the restaurant business is focussed on attracting Millennials with exciting, surprising and exotic foods, Baby Boomers are still the biggest group of diners out there. Even so, the latest dining hypes don’t necessarily put off Baby Boomers. They do like new flavours. When asked by Restaurant Business, 66% of respondents professed a love for a mix of familiar food and new flavours when going out for dinner. Taste is by far the most important menu attribute for the Boomers and they don’t shy away from vegetarian options or upping the quantity of fruit and vegetables they eat. Health matters, after all. Personal service is also very important. A warm reception, polite staff and friendly interaction do more than any fancy dish for these guests.
Yet, a familiar experience is definitely what they feel most comfortable with. In fact, 74% of the Boomers prefer chain restaurants to independent locals. They want to know what to expect, and are exceptionally loyal when the food and service is right (36% stick to their favourite restaurant). Boomers want value for money. Although they’re financially secure, 55% look for a bargain and they are by far the most prolific coupon users. After all, a penny saved is a penny earned!
More Baby Boomer facts:
- While over 60% of Boomers check the restaurant menu online (they particularly favour Facebook), they do not like mobile device ordering or cashless operations much.
- Their love for good service also extends to home delivery. For 70% of the Boomers, order accuracy is essential and 75% expect the same quality at home as in a restaurant.
- For 63% of the Boomers, cleanliness (particularly of cutlery and toilets) is essential.
- Boomers love takeaway and 37% of their restaurant orders are for pick-up.
- Health matters, but Boomers are not really drawn to organic or natural food. Functional foods, such as fibres, carotenoids, probiotics and vitamins, matter to 49% of this generation.
- Boomers snack responsibly. Fruit is their favourite.
- The flavours favoured by the Boomer generation are classic and bold, like potent sauces, spices, peppers and tangy Asian flavours. Favoured cuisines are Chinese, classic Italian or Mexican.
Making your Boomer restaurant experience a success
Getting this age group to drop by your restaurant may be the hardest task. They are less likely to change their ways, and you’d better be on top form if you want to become their next favourite. Some pointers to make it work:
Lower the threshold to get them on board
Boomers like to know what to expect. Accessibility is key, so make sure they can find you (and your menu) online. This lowers the proverbial threshold to visit – though nothing works as well as a good offer, so sweeten the deal with a great promotion. The actual price isn’t necessarily what’s stopping them, but the feeling that they’re getting a sweet deal will get them over the line.
Take care of your guests’ comfort
Boomers come by to enjoy themselves and comfort matters to them. Think about seating, speaker placement, lighting and the menu font you use. All jokes aside, you don’t want your Boomer to have to strain themselves just to figure out what’s on offer, let alone be unable to talk to their company because the music is too loud! Take time for your guests and be ready to provide them with advice and a chat.
Go for classics… and then add a (healthy) twist
Baby Boomers are not picky, but beloved classics are a guaranteed success. They like a big steak dinner one day, a healthy salad the next, so make sure both are available. Experiment with sauce combos or offer drink-pairing options that enrich the dining experience. Spice things up, but do not lose view of rustic foundations, and offer some healthy choices.
Provide them with a great night
Boomers don’t want to be rushed, so let them take their time. As for your choice of decor and offering, it’s not a bad idea to consider some nostalgia-invoking additions. Be polite, pamper them and make sure to invite them to your loyalty programme. That’ll surely keep them coming back.
And there you have it, a complete serving for the Baby Boomer guest. But don’t underestimate the Boomers! Unlike their parents’ generation, they are excited about technology and novelties. Don’t be surprised if they drop by your Millennial-oriented restaurant to have a taste. Just don’t hesitate to turn the volume down a bit and have a little chat.
Want to make more of your Baby Boomer menu? Use our menu engineering tool to get inspired, or find out how you can improve their visits by upselling your dishes. And make sure to discover other generations visiting your restaurant.