Baby boomers, individuals between the ages of 51 and 70, and matures, individuals older than 70, are entering new life stages, including retirement and senior living facilities. These two demographics share many attitudes and preferences, but also have distinct differences that operators need to understand in order to properly meet the needs of these respective generations during the breakfast daypart.
Baby boomers have a spending power of $2.3 trillion yet pose a challenge for operators because they don’t frequent foodservice establishments for breakfast as often as younger consumers. Nearly half of baby boomers (47%) say they purchase breakfast from foodservice establishments at least once a week, and over three-fourths (77%) say they buy breakfast away from home at least once a month. Even fewer matures purchase breakfast away from home at a restaurant and other foodservice establishment beyond their senior living facility at least once a week (37%) or once a month (64%). Both baby boomers and matures have fewer weekly or monthly visits compared to the overall population.
Matures often have a stronger preference for restaurant breakfast attributes than baby boomers, with the latter often agreeing closely with the overall population on attribute importance. Uncovering how members of these generations align with or stand out from the overall public in their breakfast behaviors and preferences will provide insight into how to capture more of their dining dollars in the morning.
Here are some preferences and need states of these generations for operators to promote at breakfast.
Research indicates that older consumers tend to seek out the familiar breakfast foods and beverages that they’ve always enjoyed. For instance, baby boomers and matures tie for the highest response to considering ordering eggs occasionally at breakfast, which is 5% higher than the overall population.
In addition, these generations had the highest responses for considering ordering hot coffee with or without flavors for breakfast occasionally. However, these older generations also expressed little inclination to order hot specialty coffees, with only 20% of baby boomers and 8% of matures agreeing to do so occasionally.
Since baby boomers and matures show a greater preference for traditional breakfast options compared to younger diners, operators can spotlight classic dishes and flavors on menus to encourage these generations to dine out in the morning.
This emphasis on real ingredients signals for operators to think beyond traditional health cues when marketing to older guests. For instance, real ingredients are often spotlighted in scratch-made preparations, which will also appeal to baby boomers and matures since they grew up eating homemade meals made with non-processed ingredients. Operators looking to attract these diners should consider spotlighting high-quality, clean fare at breakfast such as hormone-free chicken and grass-fed beef.
Corresponding with the importance of real foods is the value placed on freshness. This is likely because matures have more disposable income than their younger counterparts and can afford to pay for higher-priced fresh foods. Operators can position natural, seasonal and local ingredients as part of a more premium, fresh positioning.
Visible preparations are also associated with freshness. Open kitchens, action stations and tableside cooking are some ways to structure breakfast operations to promote fresh preparations to older guests.
These may include:
Build-your-own omelet, pancake or waffle stations
Customizable juice or smoothie bars
Tableside parfait carts with choice of yogurt and toppings
Brand names resonate with older consumers, particularly in regards to breakfast condiments such as fruit spreads, syrups and butter. Matures place greater value than other generations and the overall population on operators offering trusted brands for certain condiments at breakfast. The prominence older guests give to brand recognition is tied to decades of developing a trust in household names and associating them with reliable quality and taste. For operators, partnering with established breakfast condiment brands such as Smucker’s could enhance menu appeal for older guests.
3 Areas of Opportunity for Baby Boomers and Matures
CATER TO ESTABLISHED EATING HABITS:
One key trait baby boomers and matures share is a satisfaction with their overall eating habits (37% and 39%, respectively) compared to younger diners (33% of Gen Z and 32% of millennials). This is partly attributed to older consumers having a better understanding over their lifetime of the food and beverages they need and enjoy. Instead of trying to sell older consumers on emerging trends that cater to today’s youth, operators should recognize the different preferences of these established older diners in their culinary development.
CAPTURE BABY BOOMERS’ SPENDING POWER
Baby boomers have tremendous spending power, more than any other generation, and operators will want to go the extra mile to capture the dining dollars of this demographic. Callouts that will particularly win over this generation at breakfast include “hormone-free” and other “real” buzzwords, as well as menu labels that convey classic preparations such as “breakfast favorites” and “homestyle.”
TARGET MATURES WITH REAL AND FAMILIAR BREAKFAST FOODS
Matures have the lowest restaurant attendance at breakfast of all generations, but there are many tactics operators can use to encourage morning visits from these individuals. Making brand-name condiments visible at breakfast (whether it be on the table or on the menu), promoting the use of real ingredients and fresh preparations, and spotlighting traditional breakfast options are ways to tempt this demographic.