How Are Millennials Disrupting the Restaurant Industry?

How Are Millennials Disrupting the Restaurant Industry?

US restaurant and foodservice revenues are forecast to total $990 billion in 2021. Advances will be driven by increases in population and disposable personal income, as consumers dine out more often and purchase higher-priced offerings. Over the 2006-2016 period, revenues increased briskly, with 2009 representing the only year of decline as the recession prompted consumers to curb discretionary purchases.

Millennials Incited the Fast Casual Boom…

Over the decade to 2016, fast casual restaurants were the fastest growing service segment as millennials flocked to chains such as Chipotle and Panera Bread. Millennial dining preferences for fast service and highly customizable menu options stoked gains in this segment. Other features of fast casual restaurants that appeal to millennials include lower food prices than at full service establishments, “best of both worlds” positioning between full service and quick service restaurants, and novel food concepts. Many restaurants targeted millennials as the group aged and acquired higher levels of disposable personal income.

…And Contributed to the Struggles of Full Service Chains

However, the fast casual boom came at the expense of family and chain restaurants, many of which struggled through the period. For instance, Applebee’s, a full service restaurant chain, was reported to have given up on millennials as a target market since its attempts to rebrand itself as a modern bar and grill largely fell flat. The chain announced the closure of over 130 restaurants by the end of 2017 and a return of all-you-can-eat specials, as well as an expansion of its 2-for-$20 menu to recapture its traditional customers.

Want to Learn More?

For in-depth analysis of restaurant and foodservice trends, see Restaurants & Foodservice: United States, a report published by the Freedonia Focus Reports division of The Freedonia Group.

This report contains historical data and analysis of restaurant and foodservice revenues in nominal US dollars from 2006-2016 with projections to 2021. Revenues are segmented by service category as follows:

  • full service restaurants
  • quick service restaurants
  • fast casual restaurants
  • snack, bakery, and coffee shops
  • bars and taverns
  • buffets and cafeterias
  • other foodservice providers.

While you’re there, you can check out related reports such as Wine: United States and Beverages: United States.

About the Author

Cara Brosius is a Research Analyst with Freedonia Focus Reports. She holds a degree in economics, and her experience as an analyst covers multiple industries.