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Rush Report: Young Restaurant Customers Are Breaking All The Rules [2022 Stats]

Age might just be a number, but when it comes to guest dining preferences, it matters. 

Younger customers are making their dining decisions differently. And if you don’t cater to their preferences, you’re going to miss out on a highly profitable demographic.

That’s no wild claim — it’s backed up by real research. We commissioned the Rush Report, a comprehensive study of American dining habits. This blog series covers just some of the insights we uncovered. (For the full picture, download the report.)

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The Key Takeaways

  • Get Social — 71% of those aged 18-29 say social media is the first place they go to get restaurant updates, while 42% go to email. Restaurants that aren’t active on social media might be left behind.
  • Get Personal — 56% of diners say personalization is an important part of the restaurant communication experience. While it’s hard to do personalized communication well on social media (short of sliding into your customers’ DMs), it’s still a key expectation for younger customers.
  • Get With The Times — Younger Americans order takeout and delivery more than those over 55.  Businesses that cater to younger guests should invest in their off-premises dining experience accordingly.

79% Of Younger Customers Eat Out 5+ Times A Month

When all the Rush Report trends were sorted by age, younger diners (between 18-39) went against the grain for most, if not all, of them.

DemographicEating Take Out Or Delivery 5 Times Or More Per MonthEating Take Out Or Deliver 10 Times Or More Per MonthNotes
18-2979%39%Lower purchasing power and wages
30-3977%44%13% do this 11-20 times per month
55+35%10%12% don’t eat out ever, 43% only eat out once or twice a month

The 18-39 age bracket eats out or gets takeout a lot — especially compared to those aged 55 and over. This makes them a profitable demographic to target. And one that traditionally responds well to online marketing and personalized offers.

Restaurants that want to target younger customers need to invest in delivery options and ensure that this age group gets the seamless experience they’re used to from third-party apps.

But this doesn’t mean getting on UberEats and losing 30% commissions on every order — there is an easier way. Like investing in a white-label first party delivery solution with zero commission, and zero barriers between you and your customer data.

Learn More: How to Set Up Food Delivery Without Paying 30% Commissions On Every Order 

71% Of Younger Customers Check Out Restaurants On Social Media

Source: Canva

Our next question was all about communication preferences. And — you guessed it — age was a significant factor, with younger customers bucking the trend.

Among customers ages 40-54, 49% said they prefer to use social media to keep track of restaurant updates (think events, menu changes, and special deals). 46% of them preferred email for this purpose.

In the 18-29 demographic, 71% of them preferred social media for restaurant updates, and only 41% preferred email. That’s a 22% difference in social media preferences across demographics — a notable swing.

We also asked how important it was for restaurants to provide them with personalized communication. Here’s what they said:

  • 18-29: 27% say personalization is very important. 39% say it’s somewhat important.
  • 30-39: 44% say it is very important that restaurants provide personalized communication.
  • 55 and up: 41% say personalization is either very or somewhat important.

It seems younger customers prefer non-personalized social media updates over personalized email ones — for this age group, the channel is more important than any personalization.

Our advice? Know who your target demographic is and adjust your marketing and communication preferences to match. If you’re targeting that 18-39 age demographic, keep prioritizing your social media presence, but don’t forget personalized emails either.

Younger Customers Are Breaking All The Rules. Will You Join Them?

Know thy customers — it’s one of the first commandments of restaurant industry marketing.

But piecing together usable data from a dozen tech stacks that don’t play nice with each other takes a lot of time. Time you could use to focus on big-picture business decisions.

There is an easier way. HungerRush developed a done-for-you, highly-targeted, automated, and customizable marketing tool that lets you compete with the big chains without needing a dedicated marketing hire.

Ready to meet younger customers where they are? Schedule a free HungerRush demo right now.

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