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By John Hendrie

Businesses are trying to understand the dining habits of that ever elusive demographic – Millennials.  The challenges are shared within that loaded sector, Retail, where lodgings, dining, recreation and, of course, stores are trying to elbow their competition out of the running, much like Gordie Howe, the famous Red Wing hockey player.  Try as they might to create a template of that Millennial group, there are simply too many aspects and avenues which scratch that group’s itch.  We do know they’re connected and independent.  They seek an experience in their many shades of delight (not easy to get your hands around).  So, you must continually look at that marketing and sales profile/picture of the Millennial, for it changes frequently.

Just consider dining choices.  First step, look into the refrigerator of your average Millennial.  Let’s see – some bottles of water, mustard, some old cheese, a head of moldy lettuce, perhaps even a bottle of Vodka in the freezer.  Time to chow down!  These Millennials dine out up to five times a week, and they have so many options, even while staying at home.

With choice it used to be so simple - we had frozen dinners, or we went to our local restaurant.  Then, supermarkets through their Deli department started a shift – fresh foods made to your specifications – ham sandwiches and slaw for people on the go.  The fast food operations started to spring up and even convenience stores got on the quick food wagon, although their over-cooked and leathery franks were a disaster (and still are).  The dining community began to feature healthy fare and some digital distractions to attract the Millennial audience.  Now, there were a plethora of choices. 

If you lived in a city, you could order your dinner from a variety of restaurants, and those meals would be delivered to your door.  You did not need to move off the lounger.  Perhaps, you had a streak of energy and interest to make a meal yourself, but let’s not task ourselves too much.  Smart companies in the meal kit business will deliver to your door all the ingredients to make a specific meal, unusual and fresh.  All you had to do was follow directions.  There are a number of companies out there like Blue Apron with even Martha Stewart (reference the Boston Globe, 6/15/16) getting into the act.

As reported by AOL, there is another act to follow in your supermarkets – the concept called “grocerant. 

According to the industry research firm NPD Group, "Restaurant-quality and fresh food, chef-driven menus, and in-store experiences have given rise to the grocerant and inspiration to millennials to visit and spend," NPD wrote in a recent report.  In-store dining and take-out of prepared foods from grocers has grown nearly 30% since 2008, and accounted for 2.4 billion foodservice visits and $10 billion of consumer spending in 2015, according to the report.

Grocerants get higher marks from consumers in terms of variety and healthy options, compared to fast-food restaurants, NPD reports. Grocery stores' prepared foods are also rated higher for freshness and quality, which are particularly important to millennials, the study found. Grocers are also offering a wide variety of fresh foods in specialty categories such as Asian, seafood, Italian, Mexican, and barbecue.  A growing number of grocery stores are also offering dine-in seating for customers.  Wow, just think – all you need under one roof – your banking, a pharmacy, movie rentals, major appliances, etc, and now dining options as well.  I’ve gone to retail heaven!

"Millennials' interest in the benefits and experience supermarket foodservice offers will continue to be strong over the next several years," said David Portalatin, vice president of industry analysis at NPD Group. "This forecast bodes well for food manufacturers and retailers who have their fingers on the pulse of what drives this generational group. Give the millennials what they want — fresh, healthier fare and a decent price — and they will come."

Who knows what will result from all this activity to attract and serve those pesky Millennials?  It is a very exciting time to be in food and beverage business, particularly as there are so many options. 

About John Hendrie

John Hendrie believes that Remarkable Hospitality is the portal to the Memorable Experience. Seek solutions at: www.hospitalityperformance.com

Contact: John Hendrie

978-346-4367

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