Faster Food? Medium-Fast Food? Or Plain Ole Fast Food?

Posted On June 8, 2017

In this week’s edition of “Pick Your Poll,” the show whose answers depend on who we ask, our topic is: Are millennials killing chain restaurants or flocking to them?

Behind Door No. 1 we have Business Insider, who this month blamed slumping sales figures at chains such as Applebee’s, TGI Friday’s and Ruby Tuesday’s on millennials.

Behind Door No. 2 is a headline from NBC News that reads: “Why Millennials Are Hooked on Chain Restaurants.”

Door No. 3? Confusion.

A closer look at both stories, however, reveals that they’re not necessarily at odds with each other.

What’s being “killed” by millennials, according to the Business Insider piece, is a subset of the chains – sit-down, casual dining restaurants.

Business Insider quoted Buffalo Wild Wings CEO Sally Smith, who told her shareholders that while older generations went out for a meal, millennials are more drawn to cooking at home, ordering delivery or stopping at quick-serve places.

The advent of “fast-casual” chains like Chipotle and Panera Bread, home delivery options like Blue Apron, and even evolving grocery chains that are adding pick-up and delivery are giving millennials more convenient and/or more cost-effective options.

NBC News cited an EquiTrend Report from the Harris Poll, which actually found that millennials value chain restaurants higher than their parents did – because of convenience.

Five Guys, Chick-fil-A, Starbucks, Subway and Moe’s Southwest Grill were all cited among millennials’ favorites. Many of them, including Chick-fil-A and Starbucks, are upping their convenience game with mobile apps that allow for pre-ordering.

None of this is really any different from any other generation. Drive-ins gave way to Drive-Thrus. Main Street gave way to suburban malls. And the malls finally gave way to Amazon.

Millennials, like practically all young people, aren’t tied to the ways of their parents. They’re willing to try something new and, if they like it, to go back to it. The key words there are “if they like it,” and since life isn’t slowing down any, convenience is at a premium.

Build a better mousetrap and it’ll sell – particularly if it’s quick.

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Categories: Generation Y / Millennials