Millennials are being blamed for killing dozens of industries. From oil to real estate, young adults are leaving their mark on the economy by eschewing what used to be considered American institutions. There are many reasons for these societal shifts. Every generation naturally brings different preferences than the generation before. And every generation grows up during a different time in history: war, history, economy — it all plays a part.
“I think we have got a very significant psychological scar from the great recession,” Morgan Stanley analyst Kimberly Greenberger told Business Insider.
Maybe nowhere is this change in our daily lives more apparent than in the food industry. Casual dining restaurants were, for Boomers, a weekly must — a result of increasingly busy lives, high discretional incomes, and moves to the suburbs. For Millennials, they’re cliché, overpriced and void of personality. In a world full of options like delivery, fast-casual and make-at-home meal services, why eat marginally good food? Coming of age during a recession, Millennials overall want quality items when they do spend money — even if those items are more expensive. All of this has lead us to some unforeseen changes in the food and restaurant industry.
Here are seven things that Millennials are changing about the food industry.
Believe it or not, beer penetration fell one percent from 2016 to 2017 in the U.S., while both liquor and wine remain unchanged, according to Nielsen ratings. While one percent might not seems like much, it’s part of a much larger trend. Beer had already lost 10% of market share to other beverages including wine and hard liquor from 2006 to 2016.
Millennials are killing the paper napkin industry. In its place, they’re reaching for paper towels at the dinner table, reports The Washington Post. In a survey, only 56% of consumers said they bought napkins in the past six months, while 86% reported having purchased paper towels. Paper napkins were seen as a convenience for decades, but now a movement toward a more eco-friendly lifestyle has prompted a rise in reusable, cloth napkins.
Online pornographic searches for breasts are down as much as 19 percent for people 18 to 24, and this translates to a loss of interest in their in-person counterparts as well. Restaurants like Tilted Kilt and Twin Peaks know a loss in interest in breasts is bad for business. Hooters locations have dropped by 7% in the past four years, forcing the restaurant to reconsider its strategy. Some Hooters locations have been emphasizing catering or service with fully-clothed servers — including men.
In a recent survey conducted by Mintel, Millennials said that cereal was too inconvenient of a breakfast choice, because they had to clean up afterward. (What, a bowl?) But younger consumers are not attached to cold cereal like other generations have been. They either eat breakfast outside of the house or skip the early meal entirely. According to the New York Times, the dietary spot once reserved for cereal has been replaced with hot grains, smoothies, yogurt or breakfast sandwiches.
5. Casual dining chains
Joe’s Crab Shack. TGI Fridays. Ruby Tuesdays. Applebee’s. The list goes on. Dozens of casual dining chains have been struggling to attract Millennials to their tables. In August, Applebee’s announced it would close 135 restaurants. After staging its own successful culinary comeback, Arby’s purchased Buffalo Wild Wings earlier this month, and is looking to inject some of that magic into its newly acquired chicken wing brand. Without a reassessment of what Millennials want — often fast-casual and healthy — many more will fail.
6. Wine Corks
Millennials love wine. They drink nearly 50 percent of all wine in the U.S., but they hate the hassle of uncorking it. That’s why sales of wine with twist-off tops and canned wine has increased more than 125% in the past year, according to Nielsen. Plastic stoppers and aluminum screw caps account for 30% of the wine-closure market.
7. Dinner Dates
As online dating surges in popularity, fewer Millennials are interested in getting to know a stranger over a dinner out. Only 7 in 10,000 recent messages on OkCupid suggested “grabbing some dinner.” With so many date opportunities available in short periods of time, Millennials don’t have the time or money to set the scene for all of them with nice dinners. Not that they want to. Meeting for coffee or a drink is considered less intimate and less of a commitment if the chemistry between the two people flops. “Drinks also allow the serial dater to fit in multiple dates in one night, if they want,” reports Market Watch.